With a population just north of 71,000, Dominica (J7), an island country in the Caribbean, has a small but active population of radio amateurs. Given Dominica’s vulnerability to hurricanes, the focus on amateur radio often focuses on supporting emergency communications. In 2017, after Hurricane Maria hit the tiny island, amateur radio filled a huge telecommunications gap. Now the country’s telecommunications regulator is asking radio amateurs to help formulate new guidelines and standards for radio amateurs. Dominica’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) received comments until July 12 from radio amateurs participating in a “consultation(What the US FCC would call a “procedure”) that could lead to a formal and better-documented set of rules and regulations.
“There is limited guidance for those looking to use telecommunications media for their personal use, enjoyment and fulfillment as a hobby, such as in the case of amateur radio,” the NTRC said in the document. consultation. “Generally, [amateur radio] regulates itself and the involvement of the telecommunications regulator is therefore minimized. Although amateur radio clubs generally do their best to provide some level of advice and support to existing and potential operators, there is a great need for a formal and comprehensive set of guidelines and standards for the operation of the services. amateur radio station in Dominica.
Resources used in developing the draft proposals included the ARRL, FCC Amateur Radio Rules Part 97, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
“A primary source for this document was the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 47, Part 97), due to its completeness and informal adoption in some parts by the local amateur radio fraternity,” said the NTRC. Specific ARRL resources included The ARRL FCC rulebook; The ARRL user manual for radio amateurs, and The ARRL manual for radio communications. Regulators have also reviewed the amateur radio rules of Canada and Australia. The proposals would provide for three license classes – novice, general and advanced – as well as the licensing procedures for each.
The NTRC held a public meeting via Zoom in mid-June to “highlight and clarify important issues” regarding the consultation. NTRC staff then met with representatives of amateur radio clubs at the NTRC office. Under the Telecommunications Act No. 8 of 2000 and its associated regulations, the NTRC monitors compliance with all telecommunications regulations in Dominica, including amateur radio. The NTRC also manages the amateur radio spectrum.
After the initial comment period, the NTRC will review the comments and subsequently submit the Revised Draft Amateur Radio Guidelines and Standards document for comments on the initial comments received. The NTRC will also consider these comments and finalize the policy document, taking into account all views, to adopt and publish the Amateur Radio Guidelines and Standards document.
Brian J. Machesney, K1LI / J7Y, a frequent visitor to Dominica, has provided extensive advice and assistance to the Dominica amateur radio community, particularly in the area of emergency and disaster communications. He called the NTRC’s proposals “comprehensive documentation of common sense practices that have traditionally been followed, with some notable additions.”