ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB022 (2012)

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ARLB022 FCC Releases Congressionally Mandated Study on Amateur Radio

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ARRL Bulletin 22  ARLB022
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  August 23, 2012
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB022
ARLB022 FCC Releases Congressionally Mandated Study on Amateur Radio

On August 20 -- in response to a Spring 2012 Congressional directive
-- the Federal Communications Commission released its findings on
the Uses and Capabilities of Amateur Radio Service Communications in
Emergencies and Disaster Relief: Report to Congress Pursuant to
Section 6414 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of
2012.

This report contains the FCC's "review of the importance of
emergency Amateur Radio Service communications relating to
disasters, severe weather and other threats to lives and property in
the United States; and recommendations for enhancements in the
voluntary deployment of Amateur Radio operators in disaster and
emergency communications and disaster relief efforts; and
recommendations for improved integration of Amateur Radio operators
in the planning and furtherance of initiatives of the federal
government." It also required "that the study identify impediments
to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications and provide
recommendations regarding the removal of such impediments."

"There are many positive things included in the FCC report to
Congress," said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson,
N1ND. "We are pleased that the Commission highlighted the existing
Amateur Radio infrastructure to provide disaster and time-critical
communications. They also recognized the flexibility of the Amateur
Service in working with federal, state, local and tribal emergency
service agencies to supplement existing communications. The
affirmation of the value that Amateur Radio brings to the
communities across the country is underscored by the suggestion that
'DHS work with state, local, and tribal authorities so they may
develop disaster area access or credentialing policies for trained
amateur operators, including a means for documenting their
qualifications..."'

While the FCC did hold Amateur Radio in a positive light in its
discussion of emergency Amateur Radio Service communications, the
FCC report was not as favorable in the portion of the study that
addressed impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service
communications. In the comments provided to the FCC as they prepared
the study, the ARRL -- as well as numerous individuals -- cited the
proliferation of specific land-use restrictions, such as deed
restrictions and homeowners associations covenants, that prohibit
the erection of even modest Amateur Radio antennas.

The ARRL cited that such restrictions now apply to tens of millions
of homes and condominiums. In communities across every state, these
restrictions make finding suitable living arrangements that would
also allow amateurs to participate effectively in providing support
communications nearly impossible to find. The FCC disagreed with
that assessment stating "...our review of the record does not
indicate that amateur operators are unable to find homes that are
not subject to such restrictions. Therefore, at this time, we do not
see a compelling reason for the Commission to revisit its previous
determinations that preemption should not be expanded to CCRs."

When considering any current rules that serve as impediments to
enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications, the report did agree
with the ARRL's position, stating that "Commission rules that may be
an impediment to enhanced Amateur Service emergency communications
can, as the ARRL notes, be considered through the Commission's
rulemaking process. Consequently, we do not believe that
Congressional action is necessary to address any of these issues."

In the report, the FCC recommended that "DHS consult with the public
safety, emergency management and Amateur Radio emergency
communications associations and groups to identify training
opportunities that will support better utilization of Amateur Radio
operators for emergency communications, and to solicit views on how
Amateur Radio capabilities could be further incorporated into
response plans or initiatives. We also recommend that OEC include
these recommendations in the NECP."

Henderson noted that it is significant "that the FCC recommends
efforts be continued by DHS to facilitate the training and
utilization of Amateur Radio across the emergency and disaster
response spectrum -- from the public sector through to the various
groups and organizations which provide support communications via
the Amateur Service, including ARES, RACES, MARS or locally
organized support groups. When served agencies and amateur groups
plan and train cooperatively, it only enhances our abilities to
serve our communities and the public."

With the delivery of the FCC's report to Congress, the ARRL will
determine its next step in its efforts to find relief for amateurs
who live under unduly restrictive private land-use regulations. "Our
review of the FCC report shows that there is a lot to be done if
amateurs living in deed-restricted properties are to receive even
the limited relief they enjoy under the Commission's PRB-1 ruling or
the limited relief given to deed-restricted properties given by the
FCC's OTARD ruling," Henderson said. "This means continuing ARRL's
efforts on Capitol Hill and continuing to seek a Congressional
directive to the Commission to extend those limited preemptions to
include prohibition of effective Amateur Radio antennas and support
structure that are imposed by private land use restrictions. The FCC
report to Congress is not the final action in this fight. It merely
lays the groundwork for the next steps to be taken by the ARRL," he
concluded.

Read the complete FCC report on the web at,
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db0820/DA-12-1342A1.pdf.
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