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RFI Regulatory Information

This page contains information about Federal Communications Commission rules that apply to FCC preemption of local laws about RFI. It was prepared as a membership service by the ARRL Regulatory Information Branch at ARRL HQ. If you do have a regulatory problem that involves RFI, you need the information on this Web page. If local law attempts to regulate RFI from your station, if a neighbor threatens to sue you or if you feel that your local police are involved in an RFI problem, the information on this page will guide you through the steps you can take and the help the League can offer ARRL members. The bottom line is that under Federal law, only the FCC has the authority to regulate interference or write laws governing interference from licensed Amateur Radio operators. Remember, however, that the contents of this page do not constitute legal advice or aid which can only be given by a lawyer.

Who's Responsible for RFI?

In one word -- everyone. Everyone involved in an interference problem may have responsibilities and they must address those responsibilities fairly if a solution is to be found. Over and above the letter of the law, the FCC encourages an atmosphere of cooperation and trust when it comes to resolving RFI problems. In many cases, responsibility may be shared between various people involved in the problem, but often to varying degrees. For examples, if an electrical noise generator is the source of the interference, it is the responsibility of the device operator to rectify the problem. If the amateur transmitter is being operated in a completely legal manner using good engineering practice, the interference is probably caused by design deficiencies in the affected device, often fundamental overload.

Amateur-to-Non-Amateur Interference

This is what most hams mean when they say "RFI." Many amateurs are all too familiar with amateur-to-non-amateur interference; some have received the dreaded phone call or knock on the door from an irate neighbor advising them of an RFI problem. As with the other classifications of interference, there is a strong regulatory component. When faced with an RFI situation from a nonamateur, the first reaction from the consumer is "It's your fault." The logical reply from an amateur is "Not necessarily." The ARRL recommends that hams who are confronted by a concerned neighbor first read through the information on the ARRL Technical Information Service pages on RFI.