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FCC Turns Away Petition to Permit Experimental Operation on Amateur Bands


The FCC has denied the 2015 petition of a Missouri radio amateur seeking to have the Commission authorize low-power experimental activity on Amateur Radio frequencies. James Edwin Whedbee, N0ECN, of Gladstone, sought to amend FCC Part 97 Amateur Service rules to let radio amateurs conduct experiments on all amateur radio bands, subject to certain limits on duration, power, and bandwidth. The FCC declined to seek comments on the petition.

“[T]he Commission's rules contain numerous provisions for experimentation and development of new radio equipment and techniques,” the FCC said in a June 9 letter to Whedbee. “The Experimental Radio Service (ERS) rules contained in Part 5 permit a broad range of experiments, including in the Amateur Service, and prescribe the manner in which the radio spectrum may be made available to experiment with new radio technologies, equipment designs, characteristics of radio wave propagation, or service concepts related to the use of the radio spectrum.”

The letter pointed out that the FCC “recently revised and streamlined” its Part 5 rules “to provide additional flexibility to innovators” and noted that Whedbee did not discuss in his petition whether those rule changes might address his concerns.

In the same stroke of the pen, the FCC denied a 2016 petition from Whedbee seeking to delegate to the chiefs of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) authority to dispose of certain requests for exemptions, waivers, and rulemaking regarding new technologies or new application of existing technologies.


The Commission has already delegated to WTB and OET authority to act on applications, waiver requests, petitions, and even some rulemaking matters, so long as they do not raise novel questions of law or policy which cannot be resolved under outstanding Commission precedents and guidelines,” the FCC told Whedbee.

“[W]e conclude that [both] petitions present no evidence of an existing problem or other evidence meriting a rule change, and we dismiss the petitions,” the FCC concluded. “Both petitions’ underlying premise is that the Commission’s current processes for granting experimental licenses, rule waivers, and other authorizations for use of new technological developments are burdensome and impede innovation. In neither petition, however, do you provide an example of an experiment or technology that was unduly delayed by the existing rules and would have been expedited by your proposed procedural changes. Nor do you demonstrate that your proposed changes would have a substantial effect.”

Whedbee is no stranger to the FCC petition process. Earlier this year he petitioned the FCC to designate Morse (radiotelegraphy) Amateur Radio band segments as “symbol communication” subbands, and the FCC invited public comment on his request (RM-11769). In 2012, the FCC turned down Whedbee’s request that the FCC declare homeowners associations’ covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) unenforceable. 



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