Wicker: Key Senate Committee Passes Amateur Radio Bill

Measure Would Benefit Radio Operators Providing Emergency Support During Natural Disasters

November 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today praised the Committee’s approval of S.1685, the “Amateur Radio Parity Act.” This bipartisan legislation, introduced in June by Wicker and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide regulatory parity for amateur radio operators. The measure awaits consideration by the full Senate.

“Amateur radio operators provide valuable communications support during times of natural disasters,” Wicker said. “This bill would help ensure their ability to operate emergency response systems regardless of their location and at no cost to the taxpayer. These networks are a proven resource for staying prepared, and preparedness is perhaps our best defense against unpredictable weather and other hazards that might befall our state.”

The bill would call on the FCC to apply its reasonable accommodation standard evenly to all types of residential land use regulations and offer amateur radio operators the ability to negotiate with subdivisions that now have restrictions completely precluding amateur radio antennas. This process would preserve the decision-making authority of homeowners associations over the community’s aesthetic interests.

In times of emergency, amateur radio operators provide communications network backup when first responder network repeaters and infrastructure are not working. During and immediately after Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio operators restored communications lines with FEMA, the Red Cross, and other disaster relief entities when the primary emergency response network was down.