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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of ) File Number: EB-06-LA-345
Compatible Electronics Inc. ) NAL/Acct. No.: 200732900010
Silverado, CA ) FRN: 0009767906
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE
Released: May 23, 2007
By the District Director, Los Angeles Office, Western Region, Enforcement
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL"), we find
that Compatible Electronics Inc. ("Compatible"), in Silverado,
California, apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 301
of the Communications Act of 1934 ("Act") for operating a radio
transmitter without a license. We conclude, pursuant to Section 503(b)
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"), that Compatible
is apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of ten thousand
2. On December 22, 2006 the Enforcement Bureau's Los Angeles Office
received a request for assistance from the Air Force Rescue
Coordination Center ("AFRCC") regarding interference to the 406 MHz
Search and Rescue Satellite ("SARSAT") System. Investigation by the
Los Angeles Office revealed that the interference was caused by the
intentional activation of an unregistered, emergency locator
transmitter ("ELT") at Compatible's open field testing laboratory near
Mission Viejo California. After the ELT was turned off, a Los Angeles
agent admonished personnel from Compatible and Compatible's customer,
the manufacturer of the ELT in question, that ELTs tested in the
United States must be operated in accordance with the Commission's
3. On December 26, 2006, a Los Angeles agent contacted, via a three-way
conference call, the manager of Compatible, and a representative from
Compatible's customer, and explained that the Commission's rules had
no provisions for open air operation of an ELT on 406.025 MHz.
4. On March 1, 2007, the Commission sent a Letter of Inquiry ("LOI") to
Compatible regarding its activation of ELTs in December of 2006 and
asking Compatible how it complied with the Commission's Rules when
testing ELTs. In its response to the LOI, Compatible stated that it
"performs tests related to electromagnetic compatibility of
pre-production equipment to assist the electronics industry to meet
the compliance requirements of regulatory agencies in the US and
worldwide. [Compatible is] contracted by local companies to perform
testing on their products to determine compliance with FCC, FAA . . .
regulations." Compatible stated that it does not have a license to
operate an ELT test station nor does it have an experimental radio
station license for 406 MHz. Compatible also stated that the tests
were performed at its facility and were being conducted for its
customer. Compatible further stated that while its customer was
operating the ELT, Compatible was making received signal measurements
of the ELT on 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz. Compatible acknowledged, however,
that the ELT was operating on 121.5, 243 and 406 MHz and that the
December 22, 2006, tests had not been coordinated with the FAA
Regional Spectrum Management Office. Compatible also stated that
additional testing on 406 MHz took place, with permission from its
customer, on December 29, 2006, and that testing on 121.5 and 243 MHz
was performed on December 26 and 29, 2006, and January 5, 10, 19 and
22, 2007. Finally, Compatible also stated that it was testing on 121.5
MHz and 243 MHz at an open area test site as required by Section
2.1511(a) of the Rules.
5. Section 503(b) of the Act provides that any person who willfully or
repeatedly fails to comply substantially with the terms and conditions
of any license, or willfully or repeatedly fails to comply with any of
the provisions of the Act or of any rule, regulation or order issued
by the Commission thereunder, shall be liable for a forfeiture
penalty. The term "willful" as used in Section 503(b) has been
interpreted to mean simply that the acts or omissions are committed
knowingly. The term "repeated" means the commission or omission of
such act more than once or for more than one day.
6. Section 301 of the Act states that no person shall use or operate any
apparatus for the transmission of energy, or communications or signals
by radio within the United States except under and in accordance with
the Act and with a license granted under the provisions of the Act.
Section 3(33) of the Act defines "communications by radio" as "the
transmission by radio of writing, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds
of all kinds, including all instrumentalities, facilities, apparatus,
and services (among other thing the receipt, forwarding, and delivery
of communications) incidental to such transmission." Section 87.473(b)
of the Commission's Rules requires that "[l]icenses for ELT test
stations will be granted only to applicants to train personnel in the
operation and location of ELTs, or for testing related to the
manufacturer or design of ELTs." Section 87.475(d) of the Rules
states the frequencies available for ELT test stations are 121.600,
121.650, 121.700, 121.750, 121.800, 121.850, and 121.900 MHz and also
states that ELT test station licensees must "[n]ot cause harmful
interference to voice communications on these frequencies or any
harmonically related frequency," and must "[c]oordinate with the
appropriate FAA Regional Spectrum Management Office prior to the
activation of each transmitter."
7. A false ELT activation has the potential to severely impact the search
and rescue network, resulting in responder resources being wasted and
misdirected. According to the United States Coast Guard ("USCG"), air
searches for false ELT activations cost the USCG thousands of dollars
per search hour. Additional costs are incurred by rescue coordination
centers, support personnel, and ground search and rescue responders.
False activations also can cause harmful interference to the Search
and Rescue Satellite system and to airplanes and vessels in the
vicinity of the signal. Additionally, a false activation may conceal
or prevent timely response to a legitimate distress signal.
8. On December 22, 2006, the AFRCC notified the FCC Los Angeles Office of
interference to its SARSAT operations on 406 MHz. A Los Angeles agent
confirmed that the interfering signal was caused by the activation of
an ELT on 406.025 MHz at Compatible's testing facility. Compatible has
produced no license authorizing its testing of an ELT on 406.025 MHz
in an open field. While Compatible stated in its response to the LOI
that it did not operate the ELT in question, it provided services and
facilities incidental to the transmission of communications by radio
occurring on 406.025 MHz on December 22, 2006. Specifically,
Compatible provided the testing facility in which the operation took
place. Consequently, Compatible apparently participated in the
unauthorized operation. Additionally, while Compatible has no ELT
testing station license, it has admitted to using its facility to test
ELTs on 121.5, 243 and 406 MHz, on multiple days between December 22,
2006, and January 22, 2007.
9. Compatible states that its open site testing was conducted as required
by Section 2.1511(a) of the Rules. We disagree. First, we note that
Section 2.1511 is part of the Commission's Rules which detail the
procedure for testing Class A, B, and S Emergency Position Indicating
Radiobeacons ("EPIRBs"). Second, Section 2.1511(a) specifically
references Section 2.1507 of the Rules which limits such testing on
frequency pairs from 121.600/243.200 MHz to 121.900/243.800 MHz,
subject to the conditions that the testing shall not cause harmful
interference to authorized communications on those frequencies and
that the testing shall be coordinated with the nearest FCC district
office. Compatible not only failed to coordinate its tests with the
Los Angeles Office, the nearest FCC district office, but the tests
results submitted along with Compatible's response to the LOI reveal
that Compatible performed its tests on 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz, and not
on the frequencies mandated by either Section 2.1507 or Section
87.475(d), in a 30 meter open area test site.
10. Compatible was aware that it did not have an authorization to conduct
ELT testing on any frequency, therefore, its violation was willful.
Compatible's unauthorized, unlicensed operation of ELTs occurred on
more than one day, therefore, its violation was repeated. Based on the
evidence before us, we find that Compatible apparently willfully and
repeatedly violated Section 301 of the Act of the Rules by testing and
operating ELTs without the appropriate authorization from the
11. Pursuant to The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment
of Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines,
("Forfeiture Policy Statement"), and Section 1.80 of the Rules, the
base forfeiture amount for operating without a license is $10,000. In
assessing the monetary forfeiture amount, we must also take into
account the statutory factors set forth in Section 503(b)(2)(D) of the
Act, which include the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of
the violations, and with respect to the violator, the degree of
culpability, and history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other
such matters as justice may require. Applying the Forfeiture Policy
Statement, Section 1.80, and the statutory factors to the instant
case, we conclude that Compatible apparently liable for a $10,000
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
12. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.311,
0.314 and 1.80 of the Commission's Rules, Compatible Electronics Inc.
is hereby NOTIFIED of this APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A FORFEITURE in the
amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for violations of Section
301 of the Communications Act.
13. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the
Commission's Rules within thirty days of the release date of this
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, Compatible Electronics
Inc. SHALL PAY the full amount of the proposed forfeiture or SHALL
FILE a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the
14. Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument,
payable to the order of the Federal Communications Commission. The
payment must include the NAL/Acct. No. and FRN No. referenced above.
Payment by check or money order may be mailed to Federal
Communications Commission, P.O. Box 358340, Pittsburgh, PA
15251-8340. Payment by overnight mail may be sent to Mellon
Bank /LB 358340, 500 Ross Street, Room 1540670, Pittsburgh, PA
15251. Payment by wire transfer may be made to ABA Number 043000261,
receiving bank Mellon Bank, and account number 911-6106.
15. The response, if any, must be mailed to Federal Communications
Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Western Region, Los Angeles Office,
18000 Studebaker Rd., Suite 660, Cerritos, CA 90703 and must include
the NAL/Acct. No. referenced in the caption.
16. The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling a forfeiture in
response to a claim of inability to pay unless the petitioner submits:
(1) federal tax returns for the most recent three-year period; (2)
financial statements prepared according to generally accepted
accounting practices ("GAAP"); or (3) some other reliable and
objective documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner's
current financial status. Any claim of inability to pay must
specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to the
financial documentation submitted.
17. Requests for payment of the full amount of this Notice of Apparent
Liability for Forfeiture under an installment plan should be sent to:
Associate Managing Director - Financial Operations, Room 1A625, 445
12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.
18. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability
for Forfeiture shall be sent by Certified Mail, Return Receipt
Requested, and regular mail, to Compatible Electronics Inc.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Los Angeles Office
47 U.S.C. S 301.
47 U.S.C. S 503(b).
ELTs operating on 406.0 - 406.1 MHz must be registered with the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. See 47 C.F.R. S 87.199.
See 47 C.F.R. S 87.197 (ELT testing must avoid outside radiation. Bench
and ground tests conducted outside of an RF-shielded enclosure must be
conducted with the ELT terminated into a dummy load.) and 47 C.F.R. S
87.475(d) (The frequencies available for assignment to ELT test stations
are 121.600, 121.650, 121.700, 121.750, 121.800, 121.850, and 121.900
47 C.F.R. S 2.1511(a).
Section 312(f)(1) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(1), which applies to
violations for which forfeitures are assessed under Section 503(b) of the
Act, provides that "[t]he term 'willful', when used with reference to the
commission or omission of any act, means the conscious and deliberate
commission or omission of such act, irrespective of any intent to violate
any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission
authorized by this Act...." See Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6
FCC Rcd 4387 (1991).
Section 312(f)(2) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(2), which also applies to
violations for which forfeitures are assessed under Section 503(b) of the
Act, provides that "[t]he term 'repeated', when used with reference to the
commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of
such act more than once or, if such commission or omission is continuous,
for more than one day."
47 U.S.C. S 153(33).
47 C.F.R. S 87.473(b).
47 C.F.R. S 87.475(d).
Grant Lam, Forfeiture Order, DA 07-1472, 2007 WL 967181 (rel. March 30,
47 C.F.R. S 2.1507. The permitted frequency pairs are 121.600/243.200 MHz,
121.650/243.300 MHz, 121.700/243.400 MHz, 121.750/243.500 MHz,
121.800/243.600 MHz, 121.850/243.700 MHz, and 121.900/243.800 MHz.
12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999); 47 C.F.R.
47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(2)(E).
47 U.S.C. SS 301, 503(b); 47 C.F.R. SS 0.111, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80.
See 47 C.F.R. S 1.1914.
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Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission