A Beginners Licence – Your Questions

In October 2019, a proposal for a new VHF/UHF amateur licence appeared – this has generated a number of questions. Below is a video explaining the proposal:

A Beginner’s Licence – John Regnault G4SWX Interview (Oct 2019)


Here are some of the questions that have been raised, either direct to Essex Ham, or via online discussions. The responses are based on online discussions, not necessarily the views of John G4SWX or the RSGB:

But we already have Foundation!

  • Correct, which covers material on HF, a Morse/Data mode assessment, and electronics theory – None of which is needed by those who only want to (or are able to) operate on VHF/UHF
  • Foundation covers multiple bands from below 1MHz to well into the GHz range, max 10 watts. That’s very different from this proposal (5w VHF/UHF only), and therefore requires less study or non-relevant material

Someone too thick to pass Foundation, doesn’t deserve a licence!

You’re missing the point of the proposal! This is not being proposed because some people find Foundation too hard, or aren’t clever enough to pass… this is about relevance!

  • You don’t learn how to drive a bus, if you want to drive a car. So why teach HF or electronics theory to someone who wants to use or experiment on VHF/UHF?
  • Does someone really need to understand resistors in series and parallel to use a 5 w handheld? How an SDR handles demodulation? How to send Morse? No. So, why teach it?
  • The current system has hurdles and barriers to entry – should we not consider removing some of these, to help encourage growth?Today’s innovators come from the maker & hacker community, and today it’s all about Arduinos, coding, sensors, IoT, Wi-fi and Bluetooth, robotics, automation and 3D printing. And us? Well…
Intermediate Project Board
Progress to Intermediate, and you too could be working on this!

We don’t want CB Radio!

  • As we understand it, the VHF/UHF scheme would still involve an exam, still result in a callsign, and still result in an Ofcom licence being issued. Same as now. CB requires no exam, has no licence and has no Ofcom callsigns

Who would want VHF/UHF only, not Foundation?

  • Not everyone has the money for HF kit, the space for large HF antennas, permission for antennas, or the interest in working HF.
  • Most people don’t build or fix their own rigs these days, so have no need to learn the electronics theory, SDR architecture, etc yet.
  • Plus, the proposal suggests faster exams without waiting a year for a local club, driving for miles, expensive training kit, and the other hurdles offered by the current system

Standards will drop / It’s Dumbing Down!

  • Says who? There will still be an exam proportionate to the privileges granted
  • By only teaching what you need to know, you’re not dumbing down, you’re just making sure that what’s taught, is relevant
  • If we (for example), don’t include series and parallel circuits at entry-level, or the Morse assessment… will that make a difference to how that person operates on VHF?
Bulbs in Parallel
How useful is this at entry-level?

It’ll be a free-for-all!

The 2m and 70cm bands are hardly rammed, are they? In 2019 there was a threat that we’d lose 144-146MHz to the French. If Ofcom see no usage on our bands, could we see further threats in the future?

Is a plan to get more use out of our quiet bands, really such a daft idea? New entrants will still be trained, still have to pass a competency exam, and still be accountable to Ofcom!

This will be the end of the hobby!

Did the world end when Novice was introduced? Or Foundation?

Every time there’s a change (end of BR68, use of Internet to assist DX, digital voice, new data modes, new licence classes), we get cries of the end of the world. But we’re still here. Change, whilst scary for some, is not necessarily bad!

Are they going to take away Foundation?

It is proposed that this is an extra licence class, below Foundation. This proposal has no effect on existing licences, courses or exams

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