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April 2, 1998

Separate Statement
Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Amendment of Parts 2, 15, 18 and Other Parts of the Commission's Rules to Simplify and Streamline the Equipment Authorization Process for Radio Frequency Equipment

Our predecessor agency, the Federal Radio Commission, was established in 1927. The raison d'etre for that commission was the need to prevent harmful interference to services using the airwaves. Managing the spectrum to prevent interference remains one of this agency's most important priorities today.

In the digital age, an extraordinary number of devices have the potential to improve the quality of life. Many of these same devices also have the potential to cause harmful interference. This interference may degrade consumers' radio and TV reception, or it may jeopardize air traffic control systems, police and fire communications, or other services essential to public safety. That's why we have technical specifications for intentional and unintentional radiators -- to ensure that new products can continue to be designed without jeopardizing radio communications.

How can we best ensure compliance with these rules -- without unnecessarily impeding the flow of useful products into the marketplace? That's what this item is about.

In the past, we have liberalized equipment authorization procedures for products which were determined to present minimal risk of causing harmful interference. We are extending that liberalization today. A proceeding is already on the drawing board to take that process a step further -- to allow other organizations, instead of the Commission, to certify products.

I strongly support reducing unnecessary paperwork and delays. But we must not diminish our commitment to prevent harmful interference to authorized radio communications. Whatever our equipment authorization procedures, there will remain a danger that some products will not be designed to minimize the danger of interference. And there will also remain a problem of individuals who construct or operate transmitting devices with disregard for our rules.

Our responsibility to prevent harmful interference can only be fulfilled if we are prepared to follow through with credible enforcement. I sincerely hope that agency resources that are freed up, by today's order and by the third-party certification rulemaking, will be redirected to enforcement activities, so that instances of harmful interference can be swiftly remedied.

- FCC -