Regarding the elimination of CW to gain General class license in Amateur HAM Radio

Opinions by Jason Buchanan - N1SU

On July 5, 2003 the USKA (Swiss National IARU Society) announced changes in the ITU Radio Regulations that the morse code or CW requirement had been dropped authorizing immediate access to the HF bands. The FCC is expected to follow suit making it possible for persons to attain the highest license class available, Amateur Extra, without knowing any morse code at all.

I believe it is inevitable that the CW requirement will be dropped - it is disheartening to consider that anyone who can memorize the answers to pass the General class test can get on and start transmitting on HF but that's the way it is - the world is changing. Every once-great organization (KofC, Freemasonry, Amateur radio, public education) has gone on the decline as the moral norms of society fall into the gutter.

However, I would like to see the FCC preserve the existing no-phone frequency allocations if the code requirement is dropped. I worry less about the code requirement being dropped than I do of the CW spectrum width getting more narrow.

This inevitable situation can only be dealt with by asking to preserve (or enlarge) the existing spectrum for CW and keeping phone emissions in their own slice of the band.

It would be interesting to know how many transceiver manufacturers are encouraging the amendments to the CW requirement in the interests of selling more HF phone gear. There are a lot of expensive radios to be sold if the CW requirement disappears.

There are a lot of angry people out there who have for various reasons been anxiously awaiting the day when the CW requirement disappears - they feel persecuted for being denied access to HF phone for years although they do nothing to demonstrate their worthiness and dedication to the HF bands. I realize that there are a lot of people out there who can build repeaters and microwave radio devices for use on other bands who might get short-changed by not gaining HF privileges while showing such great knowledge and skill - however, every person that has that level of skill has usually been an Extra class operator who already passed the 20wpm test.

The CW requirement isn't about proving that you can copy CW, it's about proving that you really are interested in Amateur radio beyond just flapping your jaws about what the dog did the other day.

In all of the replies in favor of abolishing the morse code requirement, all of the arguments are made exclusively within the context of how it applies to the person making the argument. The only consideration is within the context of how it applies to people who are too lazy to learn and pass a simple 5 wpm test. No argument in favor of abolishing the 5wpm requirement is made with any regard to its positive effect on Amateur radio or the foundation that created it - only the perceived benefit of having more operators on the HF bands is made - no benefit as to the quality and character of the operator or the operator's general knowledge and experience level is mentioned.

As a result of making it easier to get on HF, the tenacity and enthusiasm for the hobby diminishes because the average interest in Amateur radio diminishes with it. Instead of having a band full of people who have the devotion to the hobby to learn CW, we will have a band full of people who quickly lose respect for what they gained because of the scant investment of their own time.

A similar comparison to abolishing CW requirements can be made by suggesting that PhD. diplomas should be handed out for free just because someone doesn't want to learn all the old history behind the course study. Why learn long division if you just want to multiply? Why learn how to write if all you want to do is speak to someone?

Amateur radio was founded on a basis of knowledge and education - CW has been the last bastion of these ideals by qualifying "candidates" by their desire to learn and dedicate themselves to the hobby. The hobby cheapens itself when CW is not given any credibility because CW IS the hobby - it is where it started, it is its genesis.

CW Morse Code Requirements - 17-Jul-03
(C) 2003