FCC Rules and Regulations

Spread Spectrum

As a member of the ARRL Future Systems Committee, I help develop recommendations for changes to the FCC rules to promote new and useful radio technologies in the Amateur Service. An important example is spread spectrum. We believe that the existing restrictive rules have denied amateurs the benefit of much that is now available to the non-amateur community.

I participated at a forum at the ARRL Southwestern Division Convention in Long Beach in early September 1995 where we floated some proposals to liberalize the existing spread spectrum rules. Here are my foils from that talk in postscript, and as powerpoint 3.0 source.

Here are my reply comments to the FCC on RM-8737, the ARRL's proposal to liberalize spread spectrum rules. And here are my comments to the FCC on Docket 97-12, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on amateur radio spread spectrum communications.

One of my company's founders, Dr. Andrew Viterbi, has published two very readable and insightful essays in IEEE Commmunications Magazine that give considerable insight into why forward error correction coding and spread spectrum are such valuable technologies for digital radio communications. With his permission I've obtained his second essay, Wireless Digital Communication: A View Based on Three Lessons Learned, converted it to HTML and placed it here.

Acceptable Content

Advanced amateur digital systems have been disappointingly slow in developing. A large part of the blame falls squarely on the FCC for its restrictions on content. If you think the Internet succeeded only because the old NSFNET "acceptable use" policies were largely ignored, and if you thought the Communications Decency Act was silly, you should read the FCC's rules on Prohibited Amateur Communications sometime.

FCC Docket 93-85 did bring some welcome relief, but they still stopped short of what is truly needed. I filed what I thought was a modest petition for reconsideration that pointed out the unworkability of the new rules, but the FCC eventually rejected it. Apparently they think TCP/IP, which we hams have been running on the ham bands for just about 10 years, is a "future technology" that they'll worry about when it happens. Sigh.

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Last updated: 27 March 1998