Thursday, March 20, 2014

Intended use of Part 15 in the eyes of the FCC











Once upon a time, back in 1972, a gentleman by the name Victor H .Fischer, a spokesman for a group called Western Pennsylvania Youth Radio, was operating a six-watt AM transmitter to broadcast a noncommercial educational radio service to his community.
As noble a venture as this may sound, he was broadcasting without a license; a pirate, as it were, and somebody reported his illegal activity to the FCC.

Needless to say, the FCC promptly informed Victor that he since he had no license, nor did his equipment comply with Part 15 non licensed operation, he would have to shut it down.. Having little choice but to heed the FCC, Victor promptly terminated his operation.

Victor then applied for a legal license to operation the station, but the FCC replied that his proposed operation was not eligible for licensing under any of the provisions set out in the Commission's Rules for a broadcast station.,

It appears that Victor may have next done a little research into the Part 15 legal unlicensed method which the FCC had briefly mentioned in their notice, and might have actually experimented with Part 15 some, but apparently being unsatisfied with the limited capabilities of this method; he decided to boldly file a petition requesting the FCC to simply waive the technical restrictions imposed by Part 15..!

The following is quoted portions from the official FCC document regarding Victors request and their response on the request to waive the Part 15 restrictions..

 Part 15 of our Rules permits operation in the AM Broadcast
Band of a miniature transmitter, called a Low Power Communication
Device, without an individual license provided that the input power
to the device does not exceed 100 milliwatts and that the total length
of the transmission line plus the antenna does not exceed 10 feet...

 These technical specifications are designed to limit
communication range for the protection of authorized radio services
from harmful interference, and yet are considered to be sufficiently
lenient that a reasonable operating range is provided for a Low Power
Communication Device . Moreover, regardless of strict adherence to
the technical limitations in Part 15, a Low Power Communication
Device is permitted to operate on a sufferance basis only,..


Intermission..
===============================================================
suf·fer·ance
Noun: Absence of objection rather than genuine approval; ie: toleration.
================================================================

Because relaxation of the technical specifications and operating conditions
set out in Part 15 would greatly increase interference potential to the regular broadcast service, the Commission has not granted such requests as the petitioner's in the past. 

The intent of Part 15 is to provide the radio enthusiast with
an opportunity to experiment with radio, and to entertain friends or
neighbors within a very limited communication range. The Commission
never intended that Part 15 be used to establish a low power broadcast
facility to service an entire community.


Intermission..
===============================================================
in·ten·tion
Noun: A thing intended; an aim or plan. (see my comment below)
================================================================

In support of his request, the petitioner sets out the technical requirements for his proposed operation, and merely states that interference will not be caused. The petitioner has offered no information or technical data to justify waiver of our rules; moreover, there is no showing how the public interest would be served if the restrictions in Part 15 were suspended to permit the petitioner to carry on his proposed operation.

 The Commission is not convinced that grant of the petitioner's
request is either justified or appropriate . Accordingly, IT IS
ORDERED That the petitioner's request for waiver of Part 15 is
DENIED.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION,
VINCENT J .MULLINS, Secretary.
45 F.C.C. 2d


Read the original document in it's entirety: http://transition.fcc.gov/ftp/Bureaus/Mass_Media/Databases/documents_collection/74-87.pdf
UPDATE 2/20/2017: The above link is no longer good, here is an updated link:
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-74-87A1.pdf


 I've always considered it a little humorous what Victor had essentially said to the FCC..
 "Hey, since I can't get a license, then instead I wish to utilize the part 15 method on unlicensed broadcasting, except the power and antenna restrictions really limit my range, so would you eliminate those restrictions for me? It would then suit my purpose fine."

So the reality is that Victor never actually had any genuine interest in Part 15 broadcasting per se, he was just looking for a legal term in which to pirate under.

Part 15 is what it is.. If it weren't, then it would be something else.
Part 15 is basically just a free reign playground in which you have the liberty to do the most you can with almost nothing. But you know the old expression?.. "Less is more"... Not really sure what that's supposed to mean, but it seemed an appropriate expression to insert it here cause... umm... well, nevermind.

Anyway.. I also find the document to be a to be interesting in a couple other ways..

1. It clearly describes the intent of Part 15 for public broadcasting in the view of the FCC;

" The intent of Part 15 is to provide the radio enthusiast with
an opportunity to experiment with radio, and to entertain friends or
neighbors within a very limited communication range..."


However, they also dampen that statement a little in the next line;

"The Commission never intended that Part 15 be used to establish a low power broadcast facility to service an entire community."

Yeah, well, we all know what intention is; the end or goal that is aimed at. Outcomes that are not anticipated and not foreseen are known as unintended results. But neither affects the letter of law.

Point being is that an intention is only a direction, not the final outcome or destination, nor part of the rules.
If you are able to accomplish establishing a low power broadcasting service for an entire community using only part 15 compliant transmitters and antenna systems, without causing interference to a licensed broadcast signal, then you're operation would be completely legitimate and legal. (although it would certainly entail utilizing multiple transmitters spread throughout the target area, unless your community happens to be really, really, really small!). Original intentions has no bearing in the rules or regulations.

2. Another thing I find interesting is the FCC reasons for not granting Victor's request:

a. Victor merely states that interference will not be caused, and offered no information or technical data to justify waiver of rules

b. There was no showing how the public interest would be served if the restrictions in Part 15 were suspended to permit the petitioner to carry on his proposed operation.

What's odd is that these reasons of denial imply that if Victor had provided data showing that interference would not occur to a licensed signal, and if he had elaborated on how the public interest would be served, then the FCC might have considered waiving the restrictions for him.
Of course it's unlikely it would ever happen, but nevertheless, the implication is there.

By the way..
I couldn't find any reference to the Western Pennsylvania Youth Radio group in Pittsburgh mentioned in the above document, however, there is a long running youth radio organization in Pittsburgh called 'The Saturday Light Brigade' which was formally established about 5 years after Victors petition got squashed.. Could there be a connection?
http://neighborhoodvoices.org

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