American Radio Relay League Petitions Federal Communications Commission

The American Radio Relay League, Inc., has petitioned on behalf of licensed amateur radio operators for the review of two orders of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) promulgating a rule to regulate the use of the radio spectrum by Access Broadband over Power Line (Access BPL) operators. The FCC concluded that existing safeguards combined with new protective measures required by the rule will prevent harmful interference to licensees from Access BPL radio emissions. The league is challenging this conclusion.

The league contends that without acknowledging it, the commission first abrogated 70 years of precedent by invoking section 302 of the act to authorize the operation of unlicensed devices that could interfere with licensed devices. In addition, it is no longer requiring them to cease operation if they actually cause harmful interference. Second, because "he lynchpin" of the rule "is a series of studies conducted by the engineers" that have never been made available in unredacted form, their non-disclosure violates the APA's notice and comment requirements. Third, the rule is based on a flawed assumption that Access BPL emissions under 30 MHz decay by 40 dB per decade. Reportedly, the FCC refused to consider empirical evidence supporting a lower extrapolation factor of 20 dB per decade or an alternative sliding-scale formula.

Finally, the league asserts that the FCC failed to adequately consider a proposal to limit Access BPL systems to the frequency band between 30 and 50 MHz as a "workable" way to ensure that they do not cause harmful interference in those frequencies "uniquely wellsuited to licensed long-distance communications such as...amateur radio." For its part, the FCC rejects all of these contentions.

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