The BVI Amateur Radio League has increased its membership with the introduction of three (3) newly licenced operators.
The league has been in operations locally since 1961 was re-established in 2005. It supports the work of the National Emergency Operations Centre in ensuring that communication links are established to key partners outside of the Territory during disasters or emergencies.
Emergency Communications Manager at the Department of Disaster Management, Mr. Jasen Penn who is also a licenced operator said following the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria the BVI depended on the services of Amateur Radio operators to relay messages to persons and critical agencies outside of the Territory.
Mr. Penn explained that the members of the BVI Amateur Radio League are all volunteers who have a keen interest in operating Radios in various frequency bands including HF (High Frequency), VHF (Very High Frequency).
He said, “These radios are known for their ability to restore communication links following major disasters and they played out that role following the impacts of 2017."
Licenced amateur radio operators or “Hams” have been around since 1912 and are formally regulated through local telecommunications agencies such as the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission and international agencies like the International Telecommunications Union, which is a specialised agency for information and communications technologies (ICTs) under the United Nations.
Mr. Penn further explained, “Only those individuals with a licence are allowed to transmit in the amateur radio bands. To acquire an amateur licence, individuals must pass a test demonstrating their knowledge of basic radio electronics, antennas, radio propagation and radio frequency, equipment safety and must have a good understanding of the laws and regulations that govern radio communications specific to their operations.”
The closest testing sites to the BVI are available in St. John and Puerto Rico. Once licences are obtained, amateurs are assigned unique call signs. They are forbidden from receiving compensation for their activities as the service they provide is expected to be offered on a voluntary basis.
The local league is currently made up of a total of nine licenced and enthusiastic operators who spend their personal time experimenting, sharing information and maintaining their network.
There are over two million licenced amateur operators worldwide who communicate with each other on a regular basis. Persons wishing to join the BVI Radio Amateur League or who are interested in obtaining their licence can contact Jasen Penn, Emergency Communications Manager at the Department of Disaster Management at 284 468 4200.