Waver for Robotics to use the ham bands

Patrick Gray patgperiod at gmail.com
Sat Feb 27 06:33:46 CST 2010

This is why the FCC declares the Amateur service a non-emergency service, it
clears the way for the FCC to chop up our bands and award them to entities
who are probably not even Part 15 compliant. I wonder if ReconRobotics cut a
check to the DNC recently?


On Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 9:18 PM, andre kesteloot <
andre.kesteloot at verizon.net> wrote:

>  FCC Allows Robotic Device in Amateur Band
> In January 2008, a company called ReconRobotics filed a request with the
> FCC for a waiver of Part 90 of the Commission's Rules with respect to the
> Recon Scout -- a remote-controlled, maneuverable surveillance robot designed
> for use in areas that may be too hazardous for human entry. A waiver is
> required to permit licensing of the Recon Scout because the device operates
> in the 430-448 MHz band, which is allocated to the Federal Government
> Radiolocation service on a primary basis, as well as the Amateur Radio
> Service and certain non-federal radiolocation systems on a secondary basis.
> More than two years later, the FCC granted the waiver request<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-291A1.pdf>in the form of an
> *Order* (WP Docket No 08-63), subject to certain conditions.
> According to ReconRobotics, the Recon Scout device can be thrown, dropped
> or launched into hazardous areas and can provide an operator located a safe
> distance away with video and audio, along with infrared, biological,
> chemical, heat, radiation or other data. It would be marketed for use by
> state and local law enforcement and firefighting agencies, as well as by
> security personnel in critical infrastructure industries.
> The FCC noted in the *Order* that they had received more than 70 comments
> "generally consist[ing] of public safety and law enforcement entities
> supporting the waiver request, and amateur radio operators opposing it." In
> their initial waiver request, ReconRobotics asserted that even though the
> device operates in an area allocated to other services, including Amateur
> Radio, the Recon Scout operates with only 1 W peak power and it is "unlikely
> to cause interference to these services."
> *ARRL's Arguments Against the Waiver*
> In its comments<http://www.arrl.org/news/files/ReconroboticsComments05-27-08.pdf>filed in May 2008 (as
> told in a May 29, 2009 article on the ARRL Web site<http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/05/29/10130/>),
> the ARRL called on the FCC to deny ReconRobotics waiver request, "either
> permanently or even temporarily," calling on the Commission to require
> ReconRobotics to "initiate a rulemaking proceeding if it feels that the Part
> 90 or Part 15 rules governing analog devices are not sufficiently
> accommodating and should be changed, and could be changed consistent with
> interference avoidance. Repeatedly granting waivers for analog devices which
> do not meet the fundamental interference avoidance requirements of the
> existing rules is bad spectrum management and ill-serves the Amateur
> Service."
> The ARRL pointed out in its May 2008 comments that there are differing
> amateur operations throughout the 420-450 MHz band. One of the channels
> ReconRobotics is requesting use of -- 442-448 MHz -- is used by amateur
> repeaters (with band plans varying by locality) and also for Amateur
> television repeater inputs. "These repeater inputs, both for voice and
> video, are at high locations where line-of-sight to [ReconRobotics] devices
> should be expected anywhere in the United States. Repeaters in this band are
> routinely used for emergency communications via Amateur Radio for numerous
> served agencies including FEMA, and so at times when the Petioner's device
> may be expected to be used, the repeaters may be expected to be in operation
> in the same areas." As such, the ARRL maintained that interference -- both
> from and to -- the Recon Scout device may be expected on a regular basis
> from Amateur Radio operations.
> "Because [the Recon Scout] operates on a channelized basis, each of the
> three channels being six megahertz wide, the necessary bandwidth of the
> device is apparently close to 6 MHz," the ARRL argued. "[ReconRobotics] asks
> that it be granted an unspecified series of permanent waivers to allow the
> marketing and sale to, and use of this device by law enforcement and fire
> department personnel for public safety applications. The Amateur Service,
> which has a heavily occupied, secondary allocation in the 420-450 MHz
> band...would be potentially substantially impacted by grant of these
> waivers."
> The ARRL noted that ReconRobotics asked for "unspecified permanent waivers
> of Part 90 rules" in order to market and sell its product, but, as the ARRL
> pointed out, more than the Part 90 rules would have to be waived: "Because
> the three channels (430-436 MHz, 436-442 MHz and 442-448 MHz) on which the
> device is proposed to operate…are all within that segment [430-450 MHz],
> what is being requested is not only a waiver of Part 90 service rules, but
> also a waiver of Section 2.106 of the Commission's Rules, the Table of
> Allocations. The only allocations in the 430-450 MHz band are for Government
> Radiolocation (limited to military radars) and on a secondary basis, the
> Amateur Service. Per Section 90.273 of the Commission's rules, frequencies
> above 429.99375 MHz and below 450 MHz are unavailable to stations in the
> land mobile service anywhere in the United States."
> The ARRL's comments also stated that ReconRobotics "fails to establish that
> the 420-450 MHz band is the only viable choice and that no other band would
> be suitable; an obligation of the Petitioner in order to entitle it to a
> waiver. In requesting the waiver, ARRL asserts that ReconRobotics only
> claimed, but did not show, prove or demonstrate, that other bands were not
> suitable for its purposes. In other cases before the FCC as recent as 2006,
> the Commission denied such waivers, saying, "We do not believe that the
> public interest requires grant of a waiver merely to accommodate a
> manufacturer's choice of a specific frequency when others are available."
> The ARRL contended that "nothing in the four corners of [ReconRobotics']
> request indicates anything that would verify the factual conclusions
> offered. The waiver request boils down to 'trust us, we have checked into
> this.'"
> The ARRL claimed that a permanent waiver of the Commission's Rules
> permitting nationwide marketing and use on a licensed basis of land mobile
> short-range transmitters, benefiting as it does only one manufacturer to the
> exclusion of all others, "is an inferior method of conducting spectrum
> allocations and spectrum management" and that ReconRobotics "should be
> required to refile its proposal as a petition to modify the Table of
> Allocations for this purpose. Its petition should be vetted in the normal
> course, and would be properly evaluated based on a complete technical
> compatibility showing, which is not included in the present Waiver Request."
> Upon learning that the FCC had granted the waiver, ARRL Chief Executive
> Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ said that "While we are completely sympathetic to
> the desires of law enforcement and firefighting agencies and certain
> security personnel to have a tool like the Recon Scout at their disposal,
> the fact remains that 430-448 MHz is a poor choice of frequency range for
> such a device in the United States. In its *Order*, the Commission does
> not say otherwise; it simply concludes that by imposing an array of
> conditions and limitations on the use of the device by eligible Part 90
> licensees, the potential for harmful interference to Federal and licensed
> non-Federal users of this band can be, in the Commission's view, adequately
> minimized. The *Order* falls short of requiring that the manufacturer
> adequately explain these conditions and limitations to its potential
> customers and does not explain how the Commission will enforce its
> requirements. We share the concerns expressed by NTIA on behalf of the
> Federal users of the band with regard to development of mass-marketed
> consumer devices that the Commission has no ability to control. Everyone's
> interests would have been better served had the manufacturer spent the last
> two years on engineering, redesigning its product for a more suitable
> frequency range, rather than on advocacy to legalize the domestic use of a
> product that was designed for military use abroad."
> In a February 2010 letter to Julius Knapp, Chief of the FCC's Office of
> Engineering and Technology from Karl Nebbia, Associate Administrator of the
> National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA<http://www.ntia.doc.gov/>)
> Office of Spectrum Manager, Nebbia told the FCC that the NTIA has concerns
> that "[i]f mass-marketed low power consumer devices are permitted to operate
> in the 420-450 MHz band, this could adversely impact the performance of
> critical radar systems." The NTIA listed several conditions that is said
> "are necessary to preclude the development of mass-marketed consumer devices
> that, over time, could impact the use of the 420-450 MHz band by federal
> systems."
> *The Waiver Is Granted*
> The FCC noted that Section 1.925<http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/octqtr/pdf/47cfr1.925.pdf>of the Commission's Rules provides that they may grant a waiver if "it is
> shown that (a) the underlying purpose of the rule(s) would not be served or
> would be frustrated by application to the instant case, and grant of the
> requested waiver would be in the public interest; or (b) in light of unique
> or unusual circumstances, application of the rule(s) would be inequitable,
> unduly burdensome, or contrary to the public interest, or the applicant has
> no reasonable alternative." The Commission concluded that "ReconRobotics has
> met the first prong of the waiver standard and that the grant of the request
> is warranted, subject to certain conditions."
> The FCC explained that "one purpose of allocating different spectrum bands
> to different services is to prevent harmful interference" and that
> ReconRobotics asserts that operation of the Recon Scout is unlikely to cause
> interference to the other services using the 430-448 MHz band, "because the
> device operates with lower power (1 W peak power, 0.25 W average power) than
> radiolocation systems. With respect to amateur operations, ReconRobotics
> asserts that amateur satellite downlinks should not experience interference
> because earth station antennas are angled too high to detect a low-power
> device near ground level; and that terrestrial amateur operations are
> unlikely to experience interference due to the Recon Scout's low power and
> brief, itinerant operation, and amateur transmitters' much higher power.
> Moreover, ReconRobotics acknowledges that the Recon Scout would operate on a
> secondary basis to amateur services in the band, obligating its users to
> avoid causing interference."
> The ARRL, as well as some Amateur Radio operators who submitted comments on
> the waiver request, stated that because amateur satellite orbits are not
> geosynchronous, amateur earth station antennas often point toward the
> horizon to receive low-level signals. The FCC, however, agreed with
> ReconRobotics, "that interference to amateur satellite communications is
> unlikely. The Recon Scout will be used infrequently and will be limited in
> number, significantly reducing the possibility of interference. In addition,
> it is unlikely that Recon Scout would have a significant effect on the
> ability of even an amateur earth station operating near the horizon to
> receive a low-level satellite signal, given the variety of natural and
> man-made interference sources such as terrain, trees, buildings, and other
> obstacles and ground level interferers having a greater effect on reception.
> We conclude, therefore, that grant of a waiver to permit equipment
> authorization and customer licensing of the Recon Scout on 436-442 MHz
> clearly is appropriate, because the device is unlikely to cause interference
> to amateur satellite communications in the 435-438 MHz segment."
> According to the Commission, the remainder of the 436-442 MHz segment is
> used by amateurs for wideband amateur television (ATV) operations. The FCC
> cited the 2002 edition of *The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs* (pages
> 12.44-12.51), noting "that amateur stations transmitting a video signal to a
> repeater station typically use much higher power than the Recon Scout and
> may use high gain, directional antennas. We believe, therefore, that the
> signal of the amateur station can reasonably be expected to be much stronger
> than the signal of the Recon Scout at the repeater's receiving antenna, and
> that the stronger signal of the amateur station will capture the repeater,
> thereby minimizing any interference from a Recon Scout. Accordingly, we find
> no basis in the record before us to believe that operation of the Recon
> Scout on 436-442 MHz will create interference to ATV operations."
> The FCC stated that they are "not as clear" if the Recon Scout can operate
> in the 430-436 MHz and 442-448 MHz segments "without causing harmful
> interference." Some Amateur Radio operators, in their comments, stated that
> 1 W is more than enough to activate a repeater, which could cause
> interference to an entire system of linked repeaters. In addition, the
> 432-433 MHz segment is used for long-range weak signal communications
> utilizing very sensitive receivers. "We note, however, that deployment of
> the Recon Scout on multiple channels is expected to be rare. Therefore, we
> believe that interference to these amateur operations can largely be avoided
> by requiring deployment first in the 436-442 MHz segment, then in the
> 442-448 MHz segment and in the 430-436 MHz segment only if the other two
> channels already are in use."
> *FCC Imposes Special Conditions*
> The FCC noted that ReconRobotics will need to follow the following special
> conditions:
>    - Eligibility is limited to state and local police and firefighters
>    eligible for licensing under Section 90.20(a)(1)<http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/octqtr/pdf/47cfr90.20.pdf>of the Commission's Rules, and security personnel in critical infrastructure
>    industries. Any offer for sale or lease of the Recon Scout will state these
>    eligibility limits.
>    - The Recon Scout may be used only during actual emergencies involving
>    threats to safety of life and for necessary training related to such
>    operations. Security personnel in critical infrastructure industries may
>    operate the Recon Scout only in areas that are environmentally hazardous for
>    entry by human personnel, and for necessary training related to such
>    operations.
>    - Training operations are not permitted within 30 kilometers of certain
>    US military installations.
>    - The first unit sold to a responding organization will operate on
>    436-442 MHz, with the 442-448 MHz version being sold only to entities that
>    already own the 436-442 MHz version and the 430-436 MHz version being sold
>    only to entities that already own the other two versions.
>    - The number of units to be sold is limited to 2000 during the first
>    year following equipment approval and 8000 during the second year. Future
>    sales of the Recon Scout will be reconsidered at the end of this period.
>    ReconRobotics may request authorization to sell additional units in
>    subsequent years.
>    - The Recon Scout will operate on a secondary basis (cannot cause
>    interference and is not protected from interference) to all federal users
>    and licensed non-federal users.
>    - The operation of the Recon Scout may be impacted in the vicinity of
>    certain radar and ionospheric research sites. Recon Scout transmitters shall
>    be labeled as required in Part 2<http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_02/47cfr2_02.html>of the Commission's Rules, and shall bear the following statement in a
>    conspicuous location on the device: "This device may not interfere with
>    Federal stations operating in the 420-450 MHz band and must accept any
>    interference received." In addition, the following statement shall be placed
>    in the instruction manual: "Although this transmitter has been approved by
>    the Federal Communications Commission, there is no guarantee that it will
>    not receive interference."
> The FCC also noted that operation of the Recon Scout by eligible entities
> will require a separate Commission authorization: "Applications must
> reference this *Order*. Applicants must specify the proposed area of
> operation, and the requested frequency segment. Part 90 frequency
> coordination is not required. No operation is permitted prior to license
> grant, and no applications will be granted until ReconRobotics obtains
> equipment authorization. Licensees must maintain a log of all Recon Scout
> use. The log will include date of operation, start/stop times, location of
> operation, frequency segment of operation, reason for use and point of
> contact. Licensees must provide this log to the Federal Communications
> Commission or to the National Telecommunications and Information
> Administration upon request of either agency."
> In conclusion, the FCC pointed out that some commenters were concerned that
> use of the Recon Scout will not be limited to emergencies and that it is
> meaningless to authorize the device on a secondary basis "because even if
> amateurs can identify the source of interference, public safety entities
> will not discontinue use of the device in the middle of an operation. We do
> not believe that this speculation is grounds to deny the waiver request, but
> we caution prospective users that operation of the Recon Scout in an
> unauthorized manner will subject licensees to Commission enforcement action
> and license revocation. Widespread improper use could lead us to stop
> granting or renewing Recon Scout authorizations."
> The ARRL Executive Committee will consider what additional steps can be
> taken with regard to the grant of this waiver.
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