New Technician HF Privileges Defined: ARRL board accepts final recommendations of the Band Planning Committee

(Source: ARRL News)

During this session, the [ARRL] Board took the following actions:

Accepted the final recommendations of the Band Planning Committee. Committee chair and ARRL First Vice President Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, introduced the motion to adopt the plan. An earlier draft of the plan was introduced at the Board’s in-person January meeting. After the January Board meeting, the Committee received and considered hundreds of comments from interested amateurs. The final band plan can be viewed on the ARRL website.

The new plan only applies to the HF band and makes no changes to 160 and 60 meters. A couple other notes from the accepted plan:

  • No changes to CW allocations throughout all amateur bands
  • RTTY and all other narrowband, non-ACDS modes permitted wherever data
    modes are allowed

As you read through the changes, keep in mind that the new plan addresses expanded Technician HF privileges and also re-defines ACDS (Automatically Controlled Digital Stations) allocations among other modifications.

Technicians will be happy to note they’ll have new phone and image privileges on 80 meters (3,900 – 4,000 kHz), 40 meters (7,225 – 7,300), and 15 meters (21,350 – 21,450 kHz).

Click here to download a PDF of the accepted (final) proposed plan.

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77 thoughts on “New Technician HF Privileges Defined: ARRL board accepts final recommendations of the Band Planning Committee

  1. James A Spruyt

    I realize this is a stale thread but I just wanted to comment since I just passed my General Exam last Saturday. I have been a Technician for 29 years. I had maybe 2 QSO’s during that time. 10 meters?? Why bother when there is way more DXers on 11 meters. I always felt that hams were too uptight and would jump your sh!t if you made a protocol mistake. On 11 meters there are many hams (shhhh, it’s a secret). You can spot one immediately. You can be professional with no worries about making a mistake.
    Due to the above reasons I never bought an antenna that could actually receive the HF bands. Now that I have a Comet CHA-250B my eyes have been opened. I never realized how much activity there is!!! If I was allowed on 20,40,80 meters back in the day I would have been hooked. Even if it was the tiniest sliver at the very end of the band.
    During my second QSO a ham used the Lord’s name in vain out of nowhere in between transmissions. I know it was directed at me. Well, years ago that would have turned me off once again. I don’t need it and I won’t put up with it. Since I purchased my antenna and was listening for 2 weeks before I passed the general I could hear that 99% of hams are great guy’s so I was not deterred. Interestingly I have not heard another /AG station identify even though I listen to nets all day from my recliner. I consider myself a youngster at age 58. Amateur radio better get its act together soon.

    Reply
  2. Joseph A Vega

    … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …, … – – – …,

    Get the picture?

    73s,
    W2ALN

    Reply
  3. Joseph A Vega

    …—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…,…—…

    Get the picture?

    Reply
    1. Michael Black

      Morse code is an audio language. You’ve just made the beginner’s mistake that one can learn the code by using a lookup table.

      Reply
      1. Ron F

        “ellipsis em-dash ellipsis”, repeated over and over? You sure they’re not just a very hesitant fan of Chicago style, with a stammer? 😉

        Reply
  4. ThaDood

    Whelp… My $0.02 worth would be to give the Techs the whole 10M band, like they did with 6M, but have them upgrade for the rest of the HF spectrum. Other-wise, what would really be the incentive to upgrade to Generals, then to Extras?

    Reply
    1. Randall W Carson

      Technician Class will have greater incentive to upgrade once they experience a small slice of the HF bands. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to upgrade. Medical reasons I get words backwards and part of one word swaps with parts of the next word(s). Had my eggs scrambled with a Defibrillator.

      Reply
        1. Steve kd4ttc

          I have a little tentec Argosy still in the basement I bought used like 30 years ago. The little bit on just one band wasnt’ worth it. I really wanted to have access to more bands. For me a little sliver on several bands with differing propagation characteristics would make it worthwhile. Years ago I passed the tech exam and even scored the general, but Morse was required back then and I had Zero interest in that. Then life got in the way. Anyway, a little bit of several is psychologically more incentivizing. Personally I’d have been happy with less bandwidth on the new bands. And I see I still can’t get on 17 or 20. That;s a pretty good reason to upgrade, as I understand from those bands characteristics. Another reason to allow the additional bands is so that a Tech can buy an IC-7300 and do more than just fiddle on 10 meters.

          Reply
        2. Indrid Cold

          Unfortunately, 10 meters is mostly closed due to three different solar minimum cycles converging at once. It might as well be just CB radio with the way it is closed up so hard. The few times it does open are spectacular. But it happens very seldom. When do the new technician previlege begin? I may get my license now that it is worth it. I was never really interested in VHF and UHf.,

          Reply
  5. Todd, N7TRK

    Those that are so ingrained to think that allowing Tech’s to use more HF is bad need to spend more time on 2m/70cm to realize HAM radio is dying. I remember when I got my Tech and then Tech+ (which was quickly dropped back to Tech by the FCC) in Reno, NV in the early 90’s. At that time 2m/70cm was kicking nicely. Just 10 years later moving to Dallas, TX and visiting back in Reno, the repeaters were pretty dead. Dallas had a little more activity, but not much. Today it’s all practically dead. I used to drive 45 minutes to/from my office in the wee hours of the morning from Dallas to McKinney. I ID’d almost every day. I think in a year I had two or three total conversations, other than that the air waves were dead (all available repeaters). I lost interest in HAM radio when I moved from Reno to Dallas, but have dabbled in it from time to time. There simply isn’t much to motivate me to advance my license. I do plan to retire in a little over two years on my land at 7,000ft in the middle of no-where. This has somewhat caught my interest again – will my old Kenwood TS-530S still operate? I’m looking to get it checked out, though finding a qualified HAM to take a look at it and tune it up has become very difficult. Still, if I can get on HF, even a bit more than the previous limited amount, that would motivate me to advance. The funny part is I have no problem with the addition of more phone privileges for lower class licenses, while at the same time I believe that the dropping of code wasn’t necessary. When nothing else can get through, code can. Give us more phone privs and now that code is dropped, at least encourage it.

    Reply
  6. Dan

    I actually disagree with everyone saying that the technician license holders shouldn’t have more HF privileges. I’m a technician class holder just got my license 2 weeks ago. And I definitely think there should be some HF privilege expansion. Not a lot but some. My opinion having those HF privileges expanded a little bit would really motivate me to get my general class.

    Reply
    1. Gustav

      Dan, I completely agree with you. If the whole hobby is to survive, expanding the numbers operating is the single most critical thing we must do.

      The restrictions to VHF are a relic of the days long gone. With new equipment, there is very little chance of causing problems for other services in most bands. Keeping restrictions on 630, 2200, and 60m are likely a good idea at this point, but those are not typical bands technician-type operators would ever use.

      Reply
      1. Michael Black

        The US Technician license was originally 220MHz and up. It had the same test as the General class license, except a 5WPM code test. It was intended for experimenting. It took a while before 6M and 2M (orginal just a segment of 2M) were allowed for Technicians.

        Slowly this eroded, the testing simp!ified and some HF alliwed, and then it became the entry level license, rather than the Novice.

        Reply
  7. Kilroy was here

    This is great I’d like to add my two cents, On an average night on HF i can count about 40 to 60 guys on all the bands, Now on the digital modes there are around 2000+ on Fusion DMR & D-star, FT8 has grown into a firestorm, This has to do with making things more simple, No giant antennas to worry about, No need for a amp Or a $3k transceiver, It’s not CW or SSb but its clean contacts without some retard playing music or recording people and replaying it over & over again, The techs act more human than the people on HF, Plus most of rejects all hang out in the same places, So little spots is by no way going to rain on your parade. In fact there are older hams using the digital modes now more than ever, So how & when you took your test is something you can be proud of. And gives you bragging rights. But soon we will become {SK} and no one will care what happens to radio, So just let it happen you will survive just like the changes that has taken place before, –.. …-.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      I’m not against this proposal. My comment is, if you only count 40-60 people on all hf bands combined at night, you need to do some antenna work.

      Reply
  8. K4CCP

    Whiners remember… you were the low man at one time. we all were. this change is for the better. we as a hobby need to push for change so we can keep the spectrum. if you are an extra, mentor someone and help them out. That should be the goal.

    Reply
    1. mike

      Thats part of the problem the extras i know dont know any more than the techs so how can they be a mentor i have been a tech for 30 years and know more ham radio stuff than they do…..

      Reply
  9. Bruce Palmer

    I’m a tech and don’t understand all the complaining, as just listening to people talking who when looked up on QRZ as extras, that don’t know the answer to questions that I knew the answer to before I got my ticket. I guess my question to the complainers is, how did they get their extra ticket or basically for SOME extras, what makes them more privileged then atleast a general.

    I have an ic7300 and 9700 and intend on getting general and extra whether it changes or not. So all i have to say is, quit complaining this is not the 20th century anymore, you have to move with the times or watch the hobby go down the tubes.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      This now goes to the FCC. I wouldn’t expect an acceptance from them for months especially since most at the agency are working from home.

      Reply
  10. Joe Jordan

    Agree ham was on its last leg, new techs have Increased the interest most on 2meters some on 10 more freq space would increase interest, I have never had but 2 hams who were rude, most willing to help

    Reply
  11. Kevin Alewine

    I’m a 63 year old Extra class licensed for 46 years – probably the typical ham you see wandering around hamfests these days. We absolutely need some young blood injected into the hobby, but I’m wondering if granting some voice privileges on 80, 40, and 15 was the solution. Expanding the digital segments of those bands IMO would have had more appeal to a younger generations that prefer texting to talking.

    Reply
    1. Todd Crenshaw

      Actually don’t fret…with this article I’ve already purchased the needed hardware to get my TS-530S back up and running. Plus, I’ve regained interest in re-learning code as well as advancing my license. Once this plan is approved I’ll get back on the air, listen and learn from the long time HF HAM’s. I’m not a young HAM anymore, but the more we can get on the air, the longer we keep our freq. allocation.

      Reply
  12. Anon

    All this whining and complaining from some of the older hams about how unfair it is or how they should just leave things as they are is crazy. This is a big part of the reason why there aren’t more new people to the hobby. The new guys get turned off by their attitudes. Ask yourself a question: If you encountered yourself on the air, would you want to talk to you?

    This is good for the hobby. It will motivate more people to get their licenses and to use those frequencies. Otherwise, they can get sold off to some commerical company.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I am a licensed tech, and I can say that if these new privileges are passed by the FCC, I will get me an HF rig and try it out. Then depending on whether or not I like it enough will depend on testing for my general license. I had no motivation to get my general as I was satisfied with the digital bands as well as my local 2 meter repeaters, but once I try the hf bands out, my mind may change about upgrading so I can expand those privileges. Its a win win in my opinion, because it injects new people into the airwaves for you Elmer’s to teach and us newbies to learn from, plus ensuring that the bands are ours and not sold off. And if I come across someone not too enthusiastic about me being on the bands, my response is i am not your enemy, I am just a small part of the equation in saving our frequencies for future generations. You still have way more privileges than a technician, and I would hope that you would be willing to share your knowledge so I might be motivated to upgrade. A bad attitude will run some people off for sure.

      Reply
      1. Thomas Post author

        And I’m willing to bet, you might go on and grab your General after you get a proper taste of HF. That’s what I like about these changes. They give you a taste so you’ll know if you want to take it further.

        Reply
  13. Chuck Patterson

    The reason they are doing this expansion is to get more
    Hams using the ham bands so our bands won’t be auctioned off by the politicians and actually used for advancement of the hobby. And some of the new digital modes are amazing and more reliable comms than CW
    with error correction and actually recieved below the noise level. Nothing wrong with cw if that’s your thing..
    AA4CP Chuck

    Reply
    1. Mason KE0YYG

      For the record, even though I now have some HF ability, that isn’t going to stop me from getting extra. I’ve been studying for a while now and as a technician I think this is a great way to make more hams want to test for extra or general. I understand your frustrations but pleas understand that not everyone with a tech lisence realizes what they’re missing out on until they get a taste of HF.

      Reply
    2. Daniel KC9HZN

      Techs have had limited HF access since 2006 or so (when they dropped Morse entirely).

      Anyway, I think this is really interesting. While I like the idea of CW, recognize its utility for DXing and QRP, and would really like to freshen up on it (I barely got the 5 WPM for my General before they dropped code completely), giving Technicians access to more HF modes is probably a good thing. Giving Technicians some access to ACDS is a great idea if it means that pirate cruisers will be shamed into getting a license! I mean, I got my ticket at 14, surely they’re smarter than a 14 year old! 😉 (General at 15, I recall. Took me a while to reach Extra.) I don’t feel that this cheapens my Extra class privileges any (other than maybe the changes to 80M voice, but the 80M voice band was oddly huge, and 75M voice has a bit of an unsavory reputation in some parts). If anything, it cheapens General a little, I’d kinda like to see some of the Advanced segments become General or see Advanced licensees upgraded to Extra.

      Reply
    3. Ken Pooler

      I agree with you Totaly, I’m still just a coded General and have been for over 20 years. Worked my butt off for it. I guess I will have to get extra now sence they will taking more of the general part of the band. That is why I am not a ARRL MEMBER

      Reply
    4. Dennis moore

      Oh,you poor thing.take a valium mr.extra, have a warm cocoa,you’ll still have you’re private extra frequencies so you can perpetuate you’re ,”i busted my butt, so you should too. Grow up old man.
      Dennis Moore

      Reply
  14. Dan

    Any change is good for this hobby. It’s been stagnant for too long and holds little interest with young people any longer.

    Reply
    1. Dan

      CB didnt keep up with the times, either and it’s now dead. Radio technology hasn’t improved in 30 years aside from LEDs.

      Ham radio must change.

      Reply
    2. Tom Servo

      I’ve listened to enough nonsense on 40 and 20 meters over the last few years with my regular old non-ham radio to know that I have zero interest in participating in any of the voice comms that go on these bands NOW. They sound like 2m repeaters did 10-15 years ago when I gave up ever listening to those bands because of all the crap I would hear on any given day.

      Reply
    3. Marcos

      Cb’s is one of the largest growth markets in the wireless industry the past few years. Unlike ham radio. Its dieing man and its about to be takin from us and auctioned off. So whatever it takes to keep it alive. Anything is better then subbcuming to POC.

      Reply
  15. Chris R Kilgus

    I remember taking the Gereral code test of 13 WPM in front of a FCC examiner in 1959. I was scared to death. It seemed much faster than I had practiced. I did not pass that time but I did a couple months later when the exam came back to Cincinnati.

    Extra now, loved radio over the years. 73, AA6MT

    Reply
  16. Richard Marsden II

    I got started when the no code tech got started, I then took the 5words per minute test because I wanted HF privileges finally took the general test and passed currently working on the extra class just because. My call is N7RHV

    Reply
  17. Court

    Just get rid of technician and expand general test. If I had known better last year, I would have studied and taken general same time. Having tech basically useless except for CW on HF.

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      I agree with you, if I had only known how useless my Tech was going to be I would have just gone after General Class. There is nothing to be had in the way of vhf/UHF where I live. I am currently working to upgrade.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        Change was supposed to be the death of ham radio, but what will actually kill it is people like Richard who refuse to see how much the hobby is hurting.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Sommer

          Sorry, this might hurt a few feelings, but life goes on, and so does technology. Up front, I have been a no-code tech since 1991.

          The hard truth, consumer technology has already passed Ham Radio by.

          30 or 40 years ago, people might turn to their nerdy radio friend to help them make their VCR stop flashing midnight, now they are setting up elaborate networked home theater systems on their own. Today, the average person carries more technology on their hip than the entire NASA organization had when they put the first man on the moon!

          Just in the last 5 years, mostly, Ham Radio started to add features to radios, like SD cards and Bluetooth, most consumers have been using that stuff for 10 years.

          75 years ago, if you showed a stary eyed kid how you could make beeping noises (CW) and talk to someone on the other side of the planet, they might be intrigued. Today, that same kid would pull out an iPhone and show you real time color High Definition Facetime video. Then, they would ask you why they should want such archaic nonsense.

          I read a lot of technical forums about Cellular phones, and the stuff these kids know now days, CDMA, GSM, 4G, 5G, Massive MiMo, things about spectrum propogation and antennas for these networks that would make the average 30 WPM CW warrior cringe. (Admittedly, much of that stuff goes over my head too)

          Sorry to say guys, things change, and we are being left behind as the elite nerdy guys. If things don’t change, this hobby will die off with the old geezers (I’m getting there at 58).

          If new people, with new things to do, aren’t there to take over, to be pioneers in radio of a new generation, this hobby will be nothing more than something for history to look back on as those guys that were one step above the cavemen who drew hieroglyphics on the wall.

          Eventually people moved on from spark gap generators to more modern radios. Time for us to step up, or drag our precious hobby to the grave with us.

          Bruce,
          N8ODV

          Reply
          1. Steve kd4ttc

            I agree. Radio used to be hard. Now WiFi and Bluetooth do much more interesting things that exchanging signal reports of HF. I’m glad I know radio, though. It let me intelligently set up a wireless bridge for internet between buildings. That training that let me understand radio is how I could understand the technical data on the equipment I bought and installed.

            I was thinking about helping the Museum of Scinece and Industry doing an exhibit on radio. Well, ham radio wouldn’t make much of an impact. But a history of technology from Marconi to WiFi with a segue to the Apollo program would be interesting, with ham radio as an aside.

  18. Mike

    Note that the FCC has to approve the changes before Technicians can start transmitting on the newly proposed frequencies. The ARRL is recommending them; the FCC handles the licensing and privileges.

    In general I was in support of the proposal, but I think the changes to 40 meters will create a mess. Repurposing the old 40m Novice CW band to ACDS is going to sting a bit, especially those out there who have their old Novice rigs or enjoy slower CW conversations.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Definitely. These are just the plans that have been approved to submit from my understanding. It could be quite some time before they’re in play.

      My hope is that ACDS won’t completely take over those segments. I certainly don’t want them to because the CW bands, in general, are a nice refuge.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        I hope not, but you never know what new wideband mode someone will develop for the ham bands. Isn’t a change to the maximum data rates for HF something the ARRL is also pushing for?

        I can go for support of CW only in the first 50kHz of 80/40/20/15/10m as part of the changes.

        Reply
      1. Mike

        Novice/Tech can currently use 7025-7125 kHz but CW only. The suggested band plan within 40m hasn’t changed much since Novice hams were required to use crystal-controlled transmitters. So a lot of Novice rig owners need different crystals made up if the recommendation moves.

        Reply
      1. Thomas Post author

        When I did my Novice exam, I had to pass a 5 WPM code test. Not terribly hard, but it required some time. Almost immediately after that, they dropped the code test for General and I believe Extra. I got my General and then years later learned CW on my own well past the old General requirements of 13 WPM. I upgraded to Extra a few years ago “just to do it” and am now working on getting my CW speed up to what they used to require at 21 WPM. I think many of us are motivated by the fact we love radio more than anything else.

        And you will certainly snag your General! That was actually my favorite test of them all.

        Reply
      2. Mike

        I think they should just leave it as it is. Giving more HF privileges to Techs just keeps licensees for wanting to progress to the next levels in my opinion. The Technician test would have to be totally revamped to include HF use. Besides they’re enough lids on HF with higher licenses who don’t know how to operate anyway. Letting Techs down on HF without the training and information would make it worse than what it is now.

        Reply

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