No more Morse Code for Hams

FCC removes long-standing requirement to know and learn Morse Code.

Ham radio operators will no longer need to learn Morse Code to get their licenses, the Federal Communications Commission announced last week.

While many ham radio aficionados will continue to learn Morse Code, there will be no requirements to learn it. Newer digital, image, satellite, wireless and voice technologies have replaced it.

The old requirement was for an amateur operator to tap out five words per minute to gain a General Class or Amateur Extra Class license. Since the announcement, the number of requests for new or upgraded licenses has doubled, according to the National Association for Amateur Radio.

Dropping the Morse Code requirement has been the subject of heated debate over the past several years, among operators, many of whom got their first training in Morse Code when they earned the Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge.

The FCC’s action follows revisions to the International Radio Regulations. At a gathering of the International Telecommunication Union world conference in 2003, delegates left it to individual countries to determine it Morse Code proficiency would be required for licensing.

Signing off, now. Di-di-di-dah-di-dah

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