The FCC issued an order last month that eliminated the Morse code requirement for the three classes of amateur radio licenses.

On a basic level, the action is irrelevant because proficiency in Morse code wasn't required for the entry-level “Technician” license, according to Alan Pitts, spokesperson for ARRL, the national association for amateur radio in the U.S. But perception has a way of becoming reality, and Pitts said ARRL believes the formal clarification provided by the FCC will remove a perceived barrier to entry.

The FCC's decision to eliminate the Morse code requirement already is having an impact on amateur radio, Pitts said. ARRL normally gets about 200 requests for licensing information per week, a number that more than doubled immediately after the ruling.

The ARRL had hoped that the FCC would keep the Morse code requirement for the top-level “Extra Class” amateur license, Pitts said. “Holders of that license should be the most skilled in the radio arts, and [the Morse code requirement] fits. But the FCC decided to streamline the process, and we can accept that,” he said.

Pitts acknowledged that Morse code would be needed in only the rarest of circumstances in today's world.