Licensed radio amateurs gets a break from telecom ministry

Amateur radio hobbyists have gotten a break from the telecom ministry.

The agency announced Tuesday that amateur radio operators, hams, who had licenses under a previous law will not have to take another test. Instead, they have a month to present their old document to gain a license under the new radio law.

The  Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones had issued a decree that said that amateurs, even if they have had a license for years, had to reapply. Many were unhappy about this. One test was scheduled for today and another for Aug. 16.

Neither the previous decree or one issued Tuesday affect U.S. and Canadian hams who can follow their hobby here through reciprocity if they are licensed in their home country.

Alejandro Cruz, minister of Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones, praised hams for their spirit of cooperation around the world.

He said in a release the executive branch decided on the exoneration because of the invaluable service hams provide. Hams provide a lot of community service with their communications and are especially active during times of emergencies.

All of the licenses expired in 2009 due to a new radio law, but many hams had been licensed for up to 25 years.

The ministry said that more than 100 hams would benefit from the exoneration and that many are seniors. Some hams estimated the number of licenses here at more than 300.

The statement from the ministry said nothing about citizen band radio operators who also have to be licensed here. The earlier decree said they had to take the test.

Costa Rica is strict on radio licensing. The theoretical and practical test is said to be difficult reaching into areas of radio theory and highly technical material like microwaves.

Costa Rica also requires detailed information on the equipment being used by the radio operators and its precise location. If the radio is installed in a vehicle as many are, ministry officials want information on the vehicle. There are three categories of licensing in Costa Rica, and a ham must remain at least a year in one category before taking the test for a higher category.

The United States and other countries in the north do not license citizen band operators. In the United States designated hams are assigned the task of giving license tests to newcomers.

Costa Rica has had problems with pirate radio stations and licensed stations broadcasting with excessive electrical power.

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