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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] US no-license for USRP info?

From: Dave Killion
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] US no-license for USRP info?
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2008 19:33:49 -0700

I am not a lawyer (IANAL).  The following comments deal with US laws and policies as I understand them.

The basic idea as to how USRP's can be sold to an unlicensed user is that they are sold as "Radio Test Parts" - that is, you assemble it yourself into a functional receiver/transmitter.  Furthermore, it needs software (that Matt doesn't provide) in order to create a functional radio system.  That's how you legally obtain the USRP.

Reception of radio transmissions is a protected activity in the US - that is, you can implicitly do it unless specifically told not to - in the US (where the USRP is made and sold) with the exception of cellular telephone bands (that's the "not to" part).  The USRP daughter boards that transmit and receive on those protected frequencies have a filter for those frequencies by default.  But since the USRP is an international product (used all over the world), the block is not difficult to bypass for users in other countries that are not restricted or use different bands.

Transmission is restricted by both frequency and power depending on what license you have. 

For instance, Title 47 Part 95 covers all "Personal Communications", which includes the frequency band used by CB radios (CFR, 95.401), as well as the Family Radio Service (CFR, Part 95.191-95.194).  Products sold that use these two bands are reviewed by the FCC to ensure they don't exceed power and frequency restrictions for those bands.  There are etiquette rules to follow using these bands, but they are otherwise unrestricted.  There are also additional PC bands (GMRS, for instance) that require a license which is not difficult to obtain.  Great page with lots of info for these services can be found here:  http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr95_07.html  If you used your USRP on these bands and stayed within the legal power levels, I doubt there would be a real problem.  Technically, the USRP has not been reviewed to transmit on those bands, but... if you're following the power and frequency guidelines, I'd imagine you'd not be hassled.

If you have obtained a HAM radio license, then you'll legally have access to a wide range of bands and considerably high power systems.  Part 97 covers all of that.  If you get a license, you'll know what bands and power you'll be permitted - it's part of the test.  :)  Part 97 data is here: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr97_07.html

Most any other bands not covered in the Personal or HAM bands are generally restricted from use unless specifically licensed.

I'm sorry, I know I'm not being terribly specific like you asked, but...  you're not asking very specific questions.  Obtaining the USRP is perfectly legal.  What you intend to do with it is up to you.  Depending on the frequency, power levels, and potential disruption to other radio devices (a big no-no in the US), different regulations will apply.

I hope this helps some,

Dave Killion, CISSP
Contributing Author, Security Power Tools

On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 11:01 AM, Michael Dickens <address@hidden> wrote:
Looking at < http://www.ettus.com/faq.html >:
"The USRP is sold as test equipment, which has no licensing requirements."

Can someone with experience in this area please explain to me the relevant -specific- portion(s) of the US law/code regarding the USRP?  Please do not say "Part 15" since that's a large chunk of writing.  I'm looking for (example) "15.103 (c)" as a specific portion (which, btw, is interesting but IMHO not applicable to the USRP).  Thanks in advance! - MLD

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