ARLB024 FCC Issues Strengthened Scanner Receiver Rules

Paul L. Rinaldo
Wed, 07 Apr 1999 14:23:41 -0400


73, Paul, W4RI

>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