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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB024 (1999)

ARLB024 FCC Issues Strengthened Scanner Receiver Rules

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 24  ARLB024
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  April 7, 1999
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB024 FCC Issues Strengthened Scanner Receiver Rules

The FCC has amended its rules to strengthen existing prohibitions on
scanning receivers that can receive cellular telephone
transmissions.  While the new rules contain specific exemptions for
the Amateur Service, they will have important ramifications for the
manufacture of new Amateur Radio equipment that scans frequencies
outside the ham bands.

The new rules--released March 31 in a Report and Order--broaden the
definition of a scanning receiver to include receivers that
automatically switch among two or more frequencies between 30 and
960 MHz and are capable of stopping at and receiving a detected
signal.  Still exempted are receivers designed solely for operation
as a part of a licensed station.  In response to an ARRL request,
the FCC clarified that the rules do not apply to Amateur Service
receivers unless they cover frequencies outside the ham bands.

The FCC also widened its definition of ''test equipment'' exempted
from the cellular reception restriction.  The adopted definition
defines test equipment by function, rather than by end user as
proposed, thus permitting sale to the general public.

Receivers that allow reception of cellular frequencies because of
their poor image response would be illegal under the new rules.  As
it proposed, the Commission adopted a 38 dB rejection standard for
signals in the cellular bands ''for any frequency to which the
receiver can be tuned.''

The FCC abandoned a proposal to require manufacturers to limit
reception of cellular service frequencies by ''direct pickup'' through
the cabinet.  The FCC also backed away from a proposal that could
have required epoxy potting and nonremovable components to prevent
scanner modification.  The League had argued that this could raise
the cost of buying and repairing equipment and could preclude ham
gear modification for CAP and MARS or for experimental purposes.

The FCC adopted a more generalized requirement that receivers be
designed so that tuning, control circuits, and filtering be
inaccessible, and that the design be such that any attempted
modification would render the receiver inoperative.

The new FCC rules also prohibit modification of scanning receivers
as a business or on an ongoing basis ''regardless of the date of
manufacture or number of units modified.''  The Commission also said
modification of any scanning receiver is prohibited and invalidates
the equipment authorization.  New, permanent labels on scanning
receivers also will be required.

Kits for scanning receivers would be treated the same as assembled
equipment.  The Commission said that ham radio scanning receivers
''already cover frequency ranges needed by amateurs'' and a
prohibition against scanner kits ''will not impact frequency
converter kits used to expand the frequencies covered by amateur
equipment.''  The League plans to look closely at this provision to
make sure it will not prevent amateur manufacturers from producing
legitimate transverting equipment.

The FCC said it was modifying its rules ''to clarify that the
prohibition on modifying scanning receivers to receive Cellular
Service transmissions contained in Section 15.121 overrides the home
built device provisions of Section 15.23.''

The proposed new rules become effective due 30 days after their
publication in the Federal Register.  But the FCC said it will
include ''transitional provisions in our rules to allow the
acceptance of equipment certification applications for scanning
receivers under the current rules for up to 90 days after the
publication of the R&O.

A copy of the Report and Order is available at


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