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From: SNichols
Date: Sat, 2 Apr 2005 22:43:51 -0600

>From an ARRL mailing list.


The FCC has released a Report and Order (R&O) on cognitive or "smart radio"
systems. In its 42-page R&O, "Facilitating Opportunities for Flexible,
Efficient, and Reliable Spectrum Use Employing Cognitive Radio Technologies"
(ET Docket 03-108), the Commission declined to adopt any new regulations for
Amateur Radio transceivers or for digital-to-analog (D/A) converters "at
this time." The ARRL and the National Public Safety Telecommunications
Council had commented earlier on the impracticality of incorporating
hardware features to prevent out-of-band transmissions. The League, AMSAT-NA
and TAPR also opposed regulating the marketing of high-speed D/A converters
as burdensome, more costly to consumers and unnecessary because the devices
don't pose a risk of interference.

"No parties have provided any information that shows that software
programmable amateur transceivers or high-speed D/A converters present any
significantly greater risk of interference to authorized radio services than
hardware radios," the FCC concluded in its R&O. The Commission went on to
note that "certain unauthorized modifications of amateur transmitters are
unlawful" and that it may revisit the issues "if misuse of such devices
results in significant interference to authorized spectrum users."

In its December 2003 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) leading up to
this month's R&O, the FCC had proposed exempting manufactured software
defined radios (SDRs) designed to operate solely in amateur bands from any
mandatory declaration and certification requirements, provided the equipment
incorporated hardware features to prevent operation outside of amateur
bands. The Commission also had sought comment on the need to restrict the
mass marketing of D/A converters "that could be diverted for use as radio

In its comments last May, the ARRL sympathized with the Commission's
concerns about out-of-band operation and expressed its appreciation for the
FCC's "sensitivity to the need to encourage, rather than discourage, amateur
experimentation and innovation." But, the League characterized the FCC's
fears as "overstated."

The Commission said its R&O, released March 11, is intended to "facilitate
continued growth in the deployment of radio equipment employing cognitive
radio technologies and make possible a full realization of their potential
benefits." The hope is that cognitive radios will allow more-efficient use
of the radio spectrum.

"Given their technical and operational flexibility, smart radios make
possible the improved use of vacant spectrum channels--that is, spectrum
that may be available in a specific frequency range at a particular
geographic location or during a particular period of time--spectrum that
would otherwise go unused," the FCC explained in a Public Notice. "Smart
radios have the technical capability to adapt their use of spectrum in
response to information external to the radio."

ARRL participates in international bodies that are currently working toward
establishing standards for SDRs and cognitive radios. These include
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Working Parties 8A (Land Mobile
Service, excluding IMT-2000; Amateur and Amateur-Satellite service) and 8F
(IMT-2000 and systems beyond IMT-2000).

The R&O is available on the FCC Web site

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