Why I belong to the ARRL (and why all US
There's also been criticism from individual hams and groups that
disagree with particular positions and decisions taken by ARRL.
For example, in the 1960's, ARRL supported a concept called Incentive
Licensing which was ultimately adopted by the FCC. At that
General Class operators were allowed all amateur privileges; the Extra
Class license was available, but did not confer any additional
privileges. Under Incentive Licensing, Extra and Advanced Class
licensees were permitted to use frequencies that were not available to
General Class licensees. The idea was to give hams an incentive
to improve their knowledge of theory and code by upgrading.
Unfortunately, the implementation had the effect of reducing
the privileges available to current General and Advanced Class
operators. Many hams screamed bloody murder that ARRL had acted
to take away frequencies that they had previously had. It
especially annoyed phone operators that there now were phone
frequencies that required a 20 wpm code test! To this day, there
are those who refuse to belong to ARRL because of this (for details, see the excellent
article by Bill Continelli, W2XOY).
it used to stand for "American Radio Relay League", but now
'ARRL' is apparently a proper name by itself -- is the national
organization for amateur radio operators in the USA. It has been
around since the beginning of amateur radio, and over the years has
been the target of a lot of criticism. Some of it has come from
competitors, such as the (now defunct) 73 Magazine, and other
organizations that would like to replace it as the spokesman for US
However, there are several good reasons that US amateur radio operators
ought to belong to ARRL.
- ARRL is the political action arm of US amateur radio.
In the past, many hams worked for the FCC, and the contributions of
amateur radio to military and disaster preparedness, technical
advances, etc. were well known. Today, FCC staff reflect the
agency's interest in many forms of communication besides radio.
Hams no longer provide a pool of trained operators for the military,
and technical progress does not in general come from amateur
experimenters. Many decisions that impact amateur radio are made
by Congress. It's absolutely necessary for our interests to be
represented with the FCC and with the US Congress. ARRL
understands this and does it.
- ARRL is really a grass-roots organization. Directors
are elected by the membership to represent various regions, and are
responsive to members' concerns. Minutes of director's meetings
and annual financial reports are available on the ARRL website.
- ARRL provides many useful services in addition to
advocacy, including publications, courses, research in areas such as
RFI, etc. For example, QST reviews set the standard for reviews
of amateur equipment. Many services are subsidized by membership
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