Morse Code Testing: Irrelevant

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to write anything else about the FCC’s decision to eliminate the Morse Code testing requirement for amateur radio licenses. The issue has been debated for decades, all of the arguments have been made and I am quite weary of the topic.

Then I came across the Long Delayed Echoes blog, where Jeff KE9V made his 2007 New Years predictions, which included this:

Having thrown the gates wide open by eliminating the Morse code requirement for all amateur testing we learn that there’s nobody out there waiting to join the party. I predict no significant increase of new licensees in 2007.

This really struck me as likely and it made me realize something important: eliminating the Morse Code testing requirement is not good or bad….it is irrelevant. I seriously doubt there are thousands of potential hams just waiting to get their license, if and only if the FCC removes this hurdle. At the same time, this 5 Word Per Minute requirement is not much of a barrier to keeping out the undesirables. (There are plenty of LIDs that have their Extra Class license, even when the requirement was 20 WPM.) This change is not going to add significant numbers of radio amateurs, nor will it ruin the amateur radio service. It just doesn’t matter.

The fact that much of the ham community is vehemently in favor of or against this change is an indication that we are focused on the wrong question. We have lost perspective on the basis and purpose of the amateur radio service and how it fits into the 21st century. Ham radio is about tinkering with new technology, exploring the magic of radio, performing public service and having a whole bunch of fun. Let’s focus on that, rather than licensing requirements.

73, Bob K0NR

P.S. In case you wonder, I received my Extra class license when it required 20 wpm code. Big deal.

One thought on “Morse Code Testing: Irrelevant

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Funny thing, we hams like our hobby so much that we don’t understand how there could NOT be a large crowd of people lusting to get “in”.

    Those who wanted to eliminate the requirement kept using the argument that learning the code was keeping a lot of people out of the hobby.

    Those who were against eliminating the code test envisioned large crowds of “CBers” just licking their chops to get in and ruin it for everyone.

    What the two camps had in common was a belief that there are a LOT of people, good and bad, just dying to get in on all the fun.

    The other thing they had in common is that they were both both wrong…

    73 de Jeff