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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB034 (2002)

ARLB034 ARRL Part 15 stance draws industry fire

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 34  ARLB034
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  June 17, 2002
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB034 ARRL Part 15 stance draws industry fire

An ARRL challenge to the FCC's authority to permit Part 15
unlicensed operation of radio devices that may interfere with
licensed services has drawn heavy fire from industry. The list of
those filing opposition comments includes several unlicensed device
makers and other industry giants, including Apple Computer and
Microsoft. Some industry opponents are claiming that the ARRL wants
to undo Part 15 altogether and would require individual licensing of
such unlicensed devices as garage door openers and cordless
telephones. ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, says the
industry commenters have it all wrong.

The industry assault came in direct response to an ARRL Petition for
Reconsideration in a proceeding (ET Docket 98-156) to amend Part 15
rules to allow certification of unlicensed, Part 15 equipment in the
24.05 to 24.25 GHz band at field strengths up to 2500 mV/m. The FCC
first proposed permitting the unlicensed 24-GHz devices at the
elevated field strengths in 1998 in response to a Petition for Rule
Making from Sierra Digital Communications.

The ARRL wants the FCC to reverse a portion of its Order that
addresses the Commission's jurisdiction to authorize unlicensed RF
devices that pose significant interference potential to licensed
services. The League has made similar points in two other recent
rulemaking proceedings, arguing that the FCC is expanding the
concept of unlicensed devices far beyond what the Communications Act
ever had in mind.

Opposition comments filed on behalf of Agere Systems, Apple
Computer, Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Cisco Systems, Microsoft
and VoiceStream Wireless asserted that potentially every user of
devices that radiate RF--intentionally or otherwise--''would be
required to obtain an individual license from the Commission'' if
ARRL's position prevails. The commenters urged rejection of ARRL's
petition. Other comments echoed a similar refrain.

ARRL's Imlay says the industry commenters are missing the point and,
he adds, responding to arguments that ARRL never made--such as
individual licensing of Part 15 devices. ''This is a perfect example
of where the FCC went too far,'' he said of the Order issued last
December in the 24-GHz proceeding. ''There's a threshold. The trick
is where to draw the line between licensed and unlicensed devices.''
The League contends the FCC has failed at distinguishing between
what should and should not be licensed and, in so doing, has
violated the Communications Act.

The ARRL argues that the limit of FCC's jurisdiction is reached when
it's concluded that operation of such devices ''has a substantial
interference potential'' to a licensed service.

Imlay believes that amateurs and Part 15 devices can co-exist on the
same spectrum, ''provided there are reasonable power levels that, on
a whole, do not pose an interference threat.''

The ARRL will prepare a reply for filing by the June 28 deadline in
the proceeding. Amateur Radio is primary at 24.0 to 24.05 GHz and
secondary on the rest of the band.


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