Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ARRL wins versus BPL and FCC???

On October 23rd, 2007, The ARRL argued case # 06-1343 at the United Stated Court of Appeals (District of Columbia district) on the FCC's handling of the BPL issue.

On April 25th, 2008 the Court ruled on the matter.

According to the ruling found here (Adobe acrobat reader required) the ARRL met the burden of proof that the " FCC failed to satisfy the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative
Procedure Act (“APA”) by redacting studies on which it relied in promulgating the rule and failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its choice of the extrapolation factor for measuring Access BPL emissions."

At issue here was the long standing tradition by the FCC that unlicensed operators must not cause harmful interference to licensed operations (Part 15 operations) , i.e. that a unlicensed device must not cause harmful interference, and if found to cause interference, that unlicensed operator must cease operation.

The second point at issue here was that the FCC relied on a study, which was redacted when released to the public, to remove possibly contrary evidence to the conclusion that the FCC wanted to reach.

The FCC stated that it relied on it study to reach its conclusions and when the ARRL filed a FOIA request to see the data, the FCC denied that request. The ARRL filed a second FOIA request, then at that point the FCC released the redacted studies.

The ARRL then petitioned the Court to review on 4 points
1) That the FCC went against 70 years of precedent by using Section 302 to rule that unlicensed stations could cause harmful interference to licensed stations within limits
2) The studies that the FCC relied on were not released to the public in unredacted for, thus violating the APA (Administrative Procedure Act)
3) That the FCC's 40 db per decade decay assumption was flawed in citing what was "harmful interference'
4) That the FCC failed to consider locating BPL devices between 30-50MHZ to mitigate harmful interference.

Basically the Court in favor of the league on (2) and (3), remanding the rule back to the FCC.

Credit: US Appeals Court and ARRL

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