For anyone who is interested, a friend who is also a Ham sent this to me. I thought I would pass it along:

2009 Sees Surge of New Amateur Radio Licensees
This past year was a banner year for new Amateur Radio licensees. According to ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, the FCC issued more than 30,000 new ham radio licenses. "In 2009, the demand for Amateur Radio exam sessions remained elevated and is still running at a higher rate than before the FCC's restructuring of the license requirements in 2007," Somma said. "This high level of exam session activity has produced an elevated influx of new applications, far outpacing recent years."

A total of 30,144 new licenses were granted in 2009, an increase of almost 7.5 percent from 2008. In 2005, 16,368 new hams joined Amateur Radio's ranks; just five years later, that number had increased by almost 14,000 -- a whopping 84 percent! The ARRL VEC is one of 14 VECs who administer Amateur Radio license exams.

"When looking at the statistics over the last 10 years, these are some the highest numbers we've seen," Somma explained. "Additionally, our total number of licensees across all three classes has grown each year." Currently there are 682,500 licensed Amateur Radio operators in the US, an almost 3 percent rise over 2008. In 2008, there were 663,500 licensed amateurs; there were 655,800 in 2007. Broken down by license class, at the end of 2009 there were 17,084 Novices, 334,245 Technicians, 150,970 Generals, 60,795 Advanced and 119,403 Amateur Extra licensees.

"The ARRL VEC has been busy meeting the needs of the Amateur Radio community by helping people to become radio amateurs or upgrade their existing licenses," Somma said. "In 2009, ARRL VEs administered 44,595 exam elements at 6369 ARRL VEC-sponsored exam sessions. The number of amateurs who want to be Volunteer Examiners and who want to teach Amateur Radio classes is also going up -- we've seen a spike in the number of applications from General and Extra class radio amateurs who want to give back to their community by serving as ARRL examiners and instructors."

Somma applauded all the volunteers whose "hard work and contribution of countless hours of time helps to ensure the future of Amateur Radio. The ARRL VEC thanks our 32,411 VEs from around the world whose dedication and service helped to contribute to the success of Amateur Radio. I am delighted by these important achievements. 2009 was a very good year for Amateur Radio and I am excited by the promise of 2010."

What is Amateur Radio?
If you were to ask a dozen different amateurs what ham radio meant to them chances are you would get 12 different answers. Radio amateurs have discovered a richly rewarding high-tech hobby that has many different appeals to different people. Whether it is the ability to talk to local friends over the radio waves using a hand-held transceiver (HT), communicating digitally with packet radio to exchange personal messages or vital information in an emergency, talking to other hams anywhere in the world, or engaging in contests with other Radio Amateurs over the airwaves there is something for everyone. The section What Hams Do gets into more detail about these activities.

Amateurs or Hams?
Amateurs are often affectionately called hams or ham radio operators and frequently the public is more familiar with this term than with the legal term Radio Amateur. The source of the name ham is not known but it has been around almost from the beginning of amateur radio radio in the early 1900s. The name amateur has nothing to do with skill or knowledge but rather implies that ham radio cannot be used for commercial or revenue generating purposes. It is truly a hobby but often one that makes a difference especially in emergency or disaster situations.

Modes of Communication
Amateur radio operators generally use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with each other. As you will discover in these pages there are many forms of communication although voice (also known as phone) is still the most widely used. Some of the other forms of transmission are Radioteletype (Rtty), Morse code (CW), television, and digital modes such as Packet, Pactor and PSK-31. A recent survey shows that phone is the most widely used with CW standing second.

Getting Licensed
To become a radio amateur you will need to get a license. Licensing requirements are different in every country with different rules, privileges, and classes of license. The section How to Become a Radio Amateur gives some direction on this from the Canadian and U.S. perspective. Basically different levels of license gives different privileges on the ham bands. The more challenging the license requirements the more privileges that are granted and the more interesting and enjoyable ham radio becomes.

If anyone becomes interested, and has problems getting started, please let me know. I would be glad to help. Just PM me or shoot me an email.

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