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FCC Adopts Spread Spectrum Rules Changes

03/04/2011

In a Report and Order adopted February 22 and released March 4, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission has eliminated the requirement that amateur stations transmitting Spread Spectrum use Automatic Power Control (APC) to reduce transmitter power. At the same time, the Commission has reduced the maximum power of a Spread Spectrum emission from 100 to 10 W PEP.

The R&O explains the Commission’s actions this way: “We believe that these rules changes will (1) encourage individuals who can contribute to the advancement of the radio art to more fully utilize SS technologies in experimentation, and (2) balance the interests of all users in mixed-mode and mixed-service frequency bands until sharing protocols are sufficiently developed to avoid interference.”

The ARRL filed a Petition for Rulemaking back in March 2006 asking that the APC requirement be eliminated. Since it was first imposed in 1999, the ARRL’s Petition observed, the APC requirement has “been impractical of compliance; unnecessary in order to protect other Amateur Radio operations or the operation of any licensed radio service sharing certain Amateur Radio allocations; and it has served as an unintended, but effective deterrent to Spread Spectrum experimentation in the Amateur Service.” While it did not propose the power reduction in its petition, in later comments the ARRL conceded that it has not been demonstrated that the proposed power limit would pose a substantial obstacle to SS experimentation, and stated that “it is willing to accept the restriction presently, subject to revisiting the matter after some reasonable experience is gained.”

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, commented: “We are pleased that this relatively minor matter finally has been resolved. We hope that as soon as the amended rules become effective, amateur experimenters will take advantage of the greater flexibility that has been afforded to them.”

The changes to Sections 97.311 and 97.313 of the Commission’s Rules will be effective 30 days after the R&O is published in the Federal Register.



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