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FCC Spells Out Ham Waiver

Affects certain amateur operators participating in disaster drills

Here’s a note of interest to certain hams who are considering participation in government disaster drills.

The Federal Communications Commission has laid out a process for requesting a rule waiver in certain cases. The chiefs of the Wireless Telecommunications, Enforcement and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureaus laid out the steps in a public notice.

They note that one of the underlying principles of the amateur service is its value to the public particularly in providing emergency communications, but they reiterated that it is not itself an emergency radio service.

However, they continued, when public safety organizations conduct emergency preparedness drills that include amateur operations, some safety organizations like hospitals and EMS “have expressed interest in having their employees who are amateur station operators participate in these drills by transmitting messages on the entity’s behalf,” the FCC staff wrote.

This raises a problem because the commission’s rules prohibit amateur stations from transmitting communications “in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer.” So a waiver is required.

The notice (PDF) spells out how waiver requests should be submitted.