FCC Amends Ham Radio Emergency Communications Rules

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission this week amended its ham radio rules to allow users to transmit emergency messages on behalf of employers.

“Many state and local governments, public safety agencies, and hospitals incorporate amateur radio operators and the communication capabilities of the amateur service into their emergency planning,” the FCC Report and Order states. Land mobile radio is the primary means of communications for emergency responders, it said, but “experience has shown that amateur radio has played an important role in preparation for, during, and in the aftermath of, natural and man-made emergencies and disasters.”

Current rules allow hams to operate during emergencies, but prohibit communications on behalf of employers. There are some exceptions, though none that permit hams who work for public safety agencies or hospitals, for example, to participate in drills, tests and exercises. Nor are they allowed to transmit messages on behalf of employers. The FCC ham rules were amended to allow such participation.

“We amend the rules to permit amateur radio operators to transmit messages, under certain limited circumstances, during either government-sponsored or non-government sponsored emergency and disaster preparedness drills, regardless of whether the operators are employees of entities participating in the drill.”
-- Deborah D. McAdams