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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB052 (2003)

ARLB052 FCC Turns Away ARRL Challenge over Part 15 Authority

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 52  ARLB052
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  August 1, 2003
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB052 FCC Turns Away ARRL Challenge over Part 15 Authority

The FCC has denied the ARRL's Petition for Reconsideration of a
Commission decision to allow fixed point-to-point transmitters in
the 24.05 to 24.25 GHz band to operate at field strengths 10 times
the level Part 15 rules now permit. The ARRL had asked the FCC to
reconsider and reverse a portion of its December 2001 Report and
Order (R&O) in ET-98-156. The League's reconsideration petition
contested the FCC's jurisdiction to authorize unlicensed operation
of RF devices that pose significant interference potential to
licensed services. It also asserted that such devices should be
licensed. The FCC did not agree on either count.

''We reject the assertion that there is a significant interference
potential from the unlicensed operation authorized in the Report and
Order,'' the FCC concluded in a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O)
released July 21. The FCC also said the League failed to support its
argument that the devices it authorized should be disqualified from
Part 15 unlicensed operation because they may serve a similar
function as those in licensed services.

The FCC MO&O reaffirmed its authorization to permit the Part 15
devices at field strengths of up to 2500 mV per meter and noted its
requirement to use directional antennas. The ARRL had called the
proposed power levels and antenna gain figures--33 dBi--''entirely
inappropriate for Part 15 unlicensed facilities.''

The Commission turned away the ARRL's contention that the FCC's RO
had expanded the concept of unlicensed devices far beyond its
original concept and what is permissible under Section 301 of the
Communications Act of 1934. In its denial of the League's
reconsideration petition, the FCC repeatedly made the point that
ARRL had ''conceded'' the FCC's jurisdiction to make reasonable
regulations regarding the interference potential of RF devices.

In its February 2002 reconsideration petition, however, the ARRL had
said the issue was not whether the FCC had jurisdiction to enact
reasonable regulations concerning RF devices. ''Rather,'' the League
said, ''it is whether or not a device which has substantial
interference potential to licensed radio services must be licensed.''
The limit of the FCC's jurisdiction to permit unlicensed operation
of RF devices, the ARRL had argued, ''is reached when it is concluded
that the operation of such devices has a substantial interference
potential to licensed services.''

The ARRL has raised similar arguments regarding the FCC's Part 15
authority as part of its efforts to combat a proposal by SAVI
Technology--in ET Docket 01-278--to permit RF identification tags to
operate as unlicensed Part 15 devices between 425 and 435 MHz. In
that case, the ARRL has said the FCC lacks authority to permit the
RFIDs to operate under Part 15 at the proposed field strengths and
duty cycles.

Amateur Radio is primary at 24.0 to 24.05 GHz and secondary on the
rest of the band. The AO-40 satellite includes beacon, digital and
analog transmitters in the vicinity of 24.048 GHz.

A copy of the FCC's MO&O is available on the FCC's Web site


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