FCC to Reinstate CW

FCC to Reinstate Morse Code TestApril 1, 2017 by Dan KB6NU

Washington, D.C. – April 1, 2017 – Today, the Federal Communications Commission’s previously approved Report and Order 17-987af which reinstates the Morse Code test for Technician Class, General Class and Amateur Extra Class licensees goes into effect. “It was a big mistake eliminating the Morse Code test,” admits Dotty Dasher, the FCC’s director of examinations. “We now realize that being able to send and receive Morse Code is an essential skill for radio amateurs. As they say, it really does get through when other modes can’t.”

Not only will new applicants have to take the appropriate test, but Technician Class licensees who have never passed a code test will have one year to pass a 5-wpm code test. Similarly, General Class licensees that never passed a code test will have one year to pass a 13-wpm test, and Amateur Extra Class licensees will have one year to pass a 20-wpm exam. All of these exams will require perfect copy for at least 1 full minute out of a 5 minute test session. Those amateurs that fail to pass the test will face revocation of their operating privileges. Some examinees, may not be able to copy and send Morse Code as slowly as 20-wpm. So, at their request, they may take the exam at a higher speed if they so desire. Materials for administering the examinations will be distributed to Volunteer Examiner Coordinators by the end of April, so that they can begin the testing on Monday, May 1, 2017.

“This isn’t going to be one of those silly multiple-choice type tests,” noted Dasher. “We’re going to be sending five-character random code groups, just like we did in the old days. And, applicants will have to prove that they can send, too, using a poorly adjusted straight key. This sending portion of the Examination will be read by machine, so it would behoove prospective examinees to practice with Morse decoding software or hardware to ensure that their sending exhibits no irregularities.”

Technician Class licensees will be required to take a Morse Code test, and so will a test be required for new applicants. “We discussed it,” said Dasher, “but decided that even though most Techs can’t even figure out how to program their HTs, requiring them to learn Morse Code seemed like the absolute minimum that we should demand of them.”

When asked what other actions we might see from the FCC, Dasher hinted that, in the future, applicants taking the written exam will be required to draw circuit diagrams, such as Colpitts oscillators and diode ring mixers, once again. “We’re beginning to think that if an applicant passes an amateur radio license exam it should mean that he or she actually knows something,” she said.

For further information, contact James X. Shorts, Assistant Liaison to the Deputy Chief of Public Relations for the FCC at (202) 555-1212 or jim.shorts@fcc.gov. For more news and information about the FCC, please visit http://www.fcc.gov. periodically.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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