Ham Radio Licensure Surging During COVID-19 Outbreak

With words like social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine filling up the news feeds, it’s not surprising that more people are turning to Amateur Radio to stay connected during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more prospective Hams are gaining licensure and joining the ranks of the more than 765,000 existing Amateur Radio operators currently in the U.S. And the increase isn’t a general trend—it’s correlative to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the FCC reports a 7.1 percent increase between the first week of March 2019 and the same week in 2020.

While notable, the shift is not surprising. Amateur Radio operators are able to communicate reliably across multiple bands with nearly unlimited reach. Hams can safely check on neighbors who live alone, family members in other countries, and even contact astronauts in outer space—although International Space Station inhabitants are uniquely predisposed to maintaining social distance requirements from those of us here on Earth.

New Hams can join a bevy of Amateur Radio disaster relief organizations and really make an impact. Emergency communication (EmComm) operators are trained to serve as the front-line defense when normal lines of communication fail and communication via HTs, mobile radios, and base transceivers are needed.

EmComm volunteers do it all. SKYWARN operators work with the National Weather Service to monitor dangerous storms, ARES volunteers help out during natural disasters, and there are many more relief efforts to join. Check out this EmComm article to learn more about Amateur Radio disaster relief organizations, and start making a difference.

Please feel free to share photos and stories of Hams helping out in the community and the ways you’re putting your Amateur Radio skills to the test during social isolation.

For those currently affected by COVID-19, DX Engineering would like to offer our heartfelt sympathy, support, and encouragement. As always, we are committed to working toward the advancement of global communication, the continual exchange of ideas, and an inclusive global community. Goals even more significant today.

73, wash your hands, and stay safe folks.

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