Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Fri Oct 6 09:20:23 CDT 2006


The ARRL Executive Committee is expected this weekend to ratify plans to
appeal in federal court certain aspects of the FCC's Part 15 rules governing
broadband over power line (BPL) systems. Assuming the EC signs off on the
strategy, the League will file a Notice of Appeal by October 22 with the US
District Court of Appeals -- DC Circuit. ARRL Chief Executive Officer David
Sumner, K1ZZ, said the League went forward with its appeal plans only after
considering the effect on licensed spectrum users of letting the BPL rules

"This decision was made after careful review of the FCC's October 2004 BPL
Report and Order (R&O) and of the August 2006 Memorandum Opinion and Order
(MO&O) that dealt with petitions for reconsideration," said Sumner, who
addressed ARRL's concerns with the FCC's BPL rules in his "It Seems to Us .
. ." editorial in October QST

Several reconsideration petitions of the initial R&O -- including one from
ARRL -- called on the FCC to strengthen rules aimed at protecting licensed
radio systems from BPL interference. Instead, in a new rule only revealed
after the FCC made the MO&O public, the FCC limited the extent to which an
unlicensed, unintentional radiator has to protect a licensed mobile station.

The new rule, §15.611(c)(1)(iii), provides that BPL operators only have to
reduce emission levels below established FCC permissible limits by 20 dB
below 30 MHz and by 10 dB above 30 MHz -- even if that's not enough to
resolve harmful interference complaints.

"The FCC has, in effect, tried to redefine harmful interference," Sumner
said. "It can't do that. The Commission doesn't have the authority to do
that, and we're going to demonstrate that to the Court of Appeals."

What the FCC has done with respect to licensed mobile services "should
strike fear into the hearts of those who rely on public safety
communications," Sumner said, especially since the rule requires BPL
operators to do even less above 30 MHz than at HF.

The Commission also declined to adjust the 40 dB per decade "extrapolation
factor" applied to measurements performed at distances from power lines
other than those specified in Part 15. Sumner says this is an important
technical point because the existing Part 15 rule causes test results to
underestimate actual field strength. Petitions for reconsideration from the
ARRL and others argued that a figure closer to 20 dB per decade was more
appropriate. Sumner called the Commission's stand on the 40 dB per decade
rule "clearly, demonstrably and inarguably wrong."

He said the principles that the FCC appears to be following for the first
time -- if applied generally -- represent an abuse of licensees' rights.
"It's unacceptable that the FCC would reduce the rights of its licensees in
favor of unlicensed, unintentional emitters," he said. "Remember that
'unintentional emission' is just another term for 'spectrum pollution.'"

Sumner made it clear that the League is not suing BPL providers for causing
interference, nor suing the FCC for failing to enforce its own rules against
harmful interference. "We are not satisfied with the level of attention the
Commission is paying to existing cases of BPL interference, but this is not
the time to pursue that in federal court," he said.

While the separate standard for what constitutes harmful interference to a
mobile and the 40 dB per decade extrapolation factor issues precipitated the
decision to appeal, Sumner said, the arguments the League puts forward in
its court filing may touch on other matters as well.

"The court is not going to rewrite the rules," Sumner explained. "The court
can make the Commission go back to the drawing board and re-decide them,

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