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Amateur Reciprocal Qualifications Review

Date : 24 / 09 / 2016
Author : Phil Wait - VK2ASD

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has reset the qualification equivalency of the US Technician Licence for new applications to that of the entry level Australian Foundation Licence. The majority of submissions to the ACMA inquiry fully agreed that the Foundation Licence was the most appropriate for reciprocal licensing purposes. Before the review it was set at the highest Advance Licence.

The ACMA said a report prepared by the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) indicated that the US Technician Class Licence was no longer equivalent to the Advanced Licence. The WIA sought to lower the level of reciprocity to the Foundation Licence. It also reflected the ACMA’s confirmation by independent inquiry that the basis on which the US Technician Class Licence was conferred had changed over time. The ACMA review asked: Do you support the ACMA and the WIA’s stance that the US Technician Class licence is no longer equivalent to the Advanced Licence and that the Foundation Licence is the most appropriate for reciprocal licensing purposes?
A total of 23 submissions received, 15 agreed, seven disagreed and one neither agreed nor disagreed with the proposal.

Among those agreeing was the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) that stated that the US Technician Class Licence was very close to the Foundation Licence, but not higher. (It was downgraded in 1999) Four respondents who agreed to the downgrade believed existing licensees should have their licences reviewed and possibly downgraded to Foundation Level. However five submissions who agreed to the downgrade, also felt that existing reciprocal licences already issued should remain, and that the downgrading start from the date of the ACMA decision. Those against the downgrading felt that the US Technician Licence was more aligned to the Australian Standard Licence than the Foundation Licence.

The ACMA said what must be assessed was the relative levels of each qualification - what level of knowledge was the best fit for each class of licence. Based on this test, the US Technician Class licence aligns best with the Foundation Licence. However, the ACMA ruling was not retrospective. Existing licensees who obtained their Advanced Licence based on the US Technician Class Licence were grandfathered and may continue to operate at the Advanced Level.


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