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Petition to Expand RFID Use on 70 Centimeters Withdrawn


The FCC has dismissed without prejudice a Petition for Rule Making (RM-11651) by Lockheed Martin that would have amended the Commission’s Part 15 rules to expand deployment of the company’s radio frequency identification (RFID) system in the 433 MHz band (433.5-434.5 MHz). Lockheed Martin sold its RFID business 2 years ago, but the company only this month requested that the Petition be withdrawn and the proceeding terminated.

The ARRL had staunchly opposed the Lockheed Martin petition, which the firm filed on behalf of its subsidiary at that time, Savi. The League locked horns with Savi years ago, when the company successfully petitioned the FCC to amend its Part 15 rules governing periodic radiators to permit high-power, near-continuous duty RFID tags in the 433 MHz band. As a concession to opponents, the FCC limited deployment of the devices to “commercial and industrial areas” and allowed their use only for tracking “commercial shipping containers.” Lockheed Martin acquired Savi in 2006, but no longer owns the company.

The now-dismissed petition would have expanded the frequency range of the RFID tags to 433.05-434.79 MHz, required listen-before-transmit protocols to avoid interference to Amateur Radio, eliminated a manufacturer registration requirement, and dropped rules that prohibited deploying the devices outside “commercial or industrial areas” and limited their application to “commercial shipping containers.”

The ARRL filed vigorous opposition to the Lockheed Martin Petition in January 2012, saying that Lockheed’s petition “seeks to undo virtually all of the few interference protections” the FCC had adopted in 2004, “solely on the basis of vaguely stated advances in RFID technology.” Other Part 15 device manufacturers also opposed any expansion of the high-power application.

A May 14 Commission letter from FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Julius P. Knapp said that on the basis of Lockheed Martin’s Petition and the comments filed on it, “we do not find sufficient basis to propose rules,” and determined that the original petition “does not warrant” FCC consideration. Knapp added, however, “Any party interested in pursuing changes to the rules for RFID operations in the 433 MHz band may file a new petition.”





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