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Hams Moving Up in Communications World?

FCC asks for input on how to formally incorporate amateur radio service into emergency planning

It appears hams are finally going to get some respect.

The FCC is considering formally including the amateur radio service in its emergency communications planning.

Amateur radio operators have a history of helping those in need when other forms of communications are down. Two recent examples, according to the American Radio Relay League, are hams providing storm observations and damage reports to the National Weather Service when tornados moved through Arkansas and Alabama in January and providing communications to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea when a November 2011 severe winter storm knocked out power lines and communications.

Now the commission is asking for public input on what hams can do during emergencies and how the amateur service can be incorporated into the FCC’s emergency planning, noting amateurs traditionally meet essential communications needs and facilitate relief actions. Congress has required the agency to study the issue and submit a report to both the House and Senate commerce committees.

The commission seeks comment on whether any of its current rules actually prevent the amateur radio service from functioning during emergencies and what technical innovations might improve the service, among other things.

Comments are due May 17 to GN Docket 12-91.