DIY radio for individuals, municipalities
Mar 09, 2015 12:49 pm
The National Association for Amateur Radio reports a record number of amateur radio licenses in the United States, with 726,275 radio amateurs in the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) database at the end of 2014. "Over the past decade the number of Amateur Radio licenses in the ULS database grew by some 8.1 percent," according to the ARRL. All those amateurs could be lobbying Congress for the “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015” (H.R.1301), introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The bill -- sponsored by seven Republicans and five Democrats -- would amend Part 97 of the Amateur Service rules forcing local towns to recognize the value of amateur radio over homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions.” Many municipalities and planning boards do not want antenna towers attached to homes, even though they are used in emergency communications. An identical bill failed in 2014, but the ARRL says they have more support this go-round. David Morris in the Huffington Post reports that radio waves and local rule also clashed in the FCC's Feb. 28 decision about municipal broadband. On the same day the commission made "net neutrality" the law of the land, the FCC struck down state laws that prevented Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina from extending their publicly owned broadband networks to surrounding communities. "The FCC's decision affects just those two states' laws but will undoubtedly become a precedent to evaluate most of the other 17 states' restrictions on municipal broadband," Morris wrote. Republicans, usually proponents of home rule, immediately introduced a bill stripping the FCC of its authority to make that call. Last year Republicans tacked on an amendment to another bill that would have prevented the FCC from taking up the issue. Republicans voted 221-4 in favor of that amendment, which later died in the Senate. So, for now, it looks like local municipalities may be able to create their own, cheaper, broadband networks, but who knows for how long.