[ text version | WordPerfect version ]

fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



(ET DOCKET NO. 96-256)

The FCC has revised its Experimental Radio Service (ERS) rules to encourage experiments; ensure that experimental licenses do not result in abuse of FCC processes; eliminate unnecessary and burdensome experimental regulations; and protect public safety frequencies. The streamlined rules, adopted in a Report and Order today, will make it easier for applicants to obtain licenses tailored to their particular needs. In addition, the FCC has made it possible for licenses to be granted for longer terms. Finally, the FCC rules will allow schools to hold experimental licenses, as individual students may do now.

Under Section 303(g) of the Communications Act, the FCC provides for experimental use of frequencies and encourages the larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest. The primary purpose of the ERS is to provide for experimental uses of radio frequencies and development of techniques and systems that are not otherwise permitted under existing service rules. The ERS provides opportunity for manufacturers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and students to experiment with new radio technologies, new equipment designs, characteristics of radio wave propagation, or new service concepts related to the use of the radio spectrum.

The ERS rules were last updated in 1983. Since that time, there have been significant changes in services and technologies, and the competitive and rapidly developing telecommunications market has increased the importance of maintaining current and useful rules to govern the ERS.

Licenses To promote technical innovation, the Commission will permit longer license terms and the blanket licensing of related multiple experiments, and of all the facilities needed in an experimental system. Equipment manufacturers will be permitted to conduct experiments under blanket nationwide licenses. Licensees will be permitted to change emission characteristics without filing a modification application, provided that they do not exceed their authorized maximum emissions envelope. In order to facilitate electronic filing of experimental applications, the FCC will recognize electronic signatures.

The FCC will now permit applicants to apply for licenses of a term greater than two years, up to a maximum of five years. To prevent abuses of FCC processes, it will limit the size and scope of market studies on a case-by-case basis, and terminate any such study determined to be in excess of this size and scope.

Student Authorizations The Commission will also encourage student experiments by permitting the issuance of licenses to schools, as well as to individual students, and by permitting use of additional frequencies for such experiments.

Temporary Experiments The FCC will make special temporary authorizations (STAs) easier to obtain by making them independent of other experimental licenses and by expediting their processing where circumstances warrant. STAs are for single, short-term, non-renewable authorizations, but these experiments may be extended by filing an regular, experimental application at least 15 days before the STA expires.

Elimination of Unnecessary and Burdensome Experimental Regulations To reduce regulatory burdens, the Commission is eliminating the requirement that experimental licensees contact the FCC's Compliance and Information Bureau (CIB) before commencing operation and eliminating rules specifying that a construction permit be obtained before an experimental license can be issued and that expiration dates of experimental licenses be distributed over the 12 calendar months. The Commission will allow construction of satellite experimental facilities to begin prior to licensing at the applicant's own risk.

Further, the FCC is consolidating and reorganizing ERS rules, including transferring wildlife and ocean buoy tracking operations from Part 5 to Part 90. Also, the rule on partial grants is being changed to emphasize the Commission's reliance on coordination between the staff and applicants to resolve issues.

Protection of public safety frequencies To protect public safety frequencies, the FCC adopted new rules to ensure that experiments avoid those frequencies except when there is a compelling need to use them.

Action by the Commission October 22, 1998, by Report and Order (FCC 98-283). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.


News Media contact: Audrey Spivack at (202) 418-0512

Office of Engineering and Technology contact: Rodney Small at (202) 418-2452