ARRL files against FCC BPL Ruling

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Sat Oct 14 09:48:36 CDT 2006

>From the ARRL Nesletter
André N4ICK



The ARRL this week notified the US District Court of Appeals -- DC Circuit
that it's appealing certain aspects of the FCC's Part 15 rules governing
broadband over power line (BPL) systems. The ARRL Executive Committee
ratified plans to go forward with the Petition for Review when it met
October 7. The League is asking the court to review the FCC's October 2004
Report and Order (R&O) establishing Part 15 rules to govern BPL systems as
well as its August 2006 Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) that dealt with
various petitions for reconsideration of the 2004 R&O, including one from
the ARRL.

"ARRL seeks review of the orders on the ground that they exceed the
Commission's jurisdiction and authority; are contrary to the Communications
Act of 1934; and are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and
otherwise not in accordance with law," the League said in its petition.
"ARRL requests that this court hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin and set aside
the orders."

A court filing that details the League's specific objections regarding the
two orders is pending. Although the petition will argue a number of points,
two specific aspects of the FCC's BPL orders precipitated the League's
appeal. One is a new rule, only revealed after the FCC made the MO&O public,
that limits the extent to which an unlicensed, unintentional radiator must
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 called these levels
"modestly above the noise level."

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, contends the rule change in the MO&O regarding
mobile stations contravenes the International Radio Regulations and the
Communications Act of 1934. "The FCC has, in effect, tried to redefine
harmful interference," he 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."

ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, has said the levels applicable to
mobiles would be some 25 dB higher than the median values for man-made noise
in residential areas and up to 40 dB higher than the minimum values hams use
for reliable communication.

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 underestimates actual
field strength.

In their petitions for reconsideration, the ARRL and others demonstrated
that the 40 dB per decade extrapolation factor was wrong and that a figure
closer to 20 dB per decade was appropriate. Sumner called the Commission's
stand on the 40 dB per decade rule "clearly, demonstrably and inarguably

Sumner said the League decided to go forward with its appeal only after
considering the effect on licensed spectrum users of letting the BPL rules
stand. He addressed a number of ARRL's concerns with the FCC's BPL rules in
his "It Seems to Us . . ." editorial in October QST.

The firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP of Washington, DC, is
handling the ARRL's Petition for Review in conjunction with ARRL General
Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD.

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