FCC seeks comment on changes to amateur radio rules

In recognition of the vital role that amateur radio operators have played following natural and man-made disasters, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking to broaden their ability to participate in government-sponsored emergency preparedness and disaster readiness drills and tests.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued on March 24th, the Commission proposed amending its amateur radio service rules to allow amateur radio operators to participate in emergency and disaster preparedness drills, regardless of whether the radio operators are employees of those organizations participating in the drill.

The Commission has proposed the rule change since the current regulations prohibit amateur radio operators who are employees of public safety agencies, hospitals, and other entities from participating in emergency preparedness drills and test, and to transmit messages on behalf of their employers during such tests.

Such regulations stem from the view that the Amateur Radio Service was primarily designated for “amateurs,” that is, “persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.”

In the NPRM, the Commission emphasizes that its proposed changes “do not disturb the core principle of amateur radio service as a voluntary, non-commercial communication service.”  “Rather,” the NPRM continues, “we believe that the public interest will be served by a narrow exception to the prohibition.”

Comments on the Commission’s NPRM must be filed on or before May 24th.

View the complete text of the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding amateur radio regulations.