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Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Part 15 (47 CFR 15) is an oft-quoted part of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations regarding unlicensed transmissions. It is a part of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and regulates everything from spurious emissions to unlicensed low-power broadcasting. Nearly every electronics device sold inside the United States radiates unintentional emissions, and must be reviewed to comply with Part 15 before it can be advertised or sold in the US market.
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Subpart A includes 21 sections from 15.1 to 15.38.
47 CFR 15.1 states that any radiator (that which emits radio energy), whether or not intentional, must be licensed unless it meets 47 CFR 15 or is otherwise exempted by the FCC.
47 CFR 15.3 the definitions are defined by the definition given.
47 CFR 15.5 contains a general provision that devices may not cause interference and must accept any interference received. You are cautioned that any changes or modifications to devices not expressly approved by the party responsible for compliance may void your authority to operate devices.
47 CFR 15.5 prohibits intentional damped wave transmissions such as spark-gap transmitters which were common before the 1920s but occupy a needlessly wide range of frequencies.
47 CFR 15.9 prohibits operating a device under Part 15 for the purpose of eavesdropping, except when under lawful authority of law enforcement or when all parties in a conversation consent.
Subpart B deals with unintentional radiators—devices for which the purpose is not to produce radio waves, but which do anyway, such as computers. There are 16 sections between 15.101 and 15.123.
Subpart C deals with devices that are specifically designed to produce coherent radio waves, such as small transmitters. Specific to broadcasting, 15.221 (and 15.219) deal with the AM band; & 15.239 deals with the FM band. 15.247 covers most Wi-Fi frequencies that aren't U-NII.
Sections 15.301 to 15.323 deal with unlicensed PCS devices from 1.91 to 1.93 GHz.
Cordless telephones using DECT 6.0 standards use this unlicensed PCS band.
15.401 to 15.407 deal with unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices
15.501 to 15.525 deal with ultra-wideband (UWB) devices, including ground-penetrating radar.
15.601 to 15.615 deal with broadband over power lines (BPL) devices operating in the 1.705–80 MHz band over medium- or low-voltage lines.
15.701 to 15.717 deal with (TVBDs), TV-band devices that operate on an available television channel in the broadcast television band. An available channel is a 6 megahertz television channel that is not being used by an authorized service in a given geographical location, and thus may be used by unlicensed devices under the provisions of this rule part.
Unintentional radiators are designated in two major classes:
The emission limits for Class B devices are about 10 dB more restrictive than those for Class A devices since they are more likely to be located closer to radio and television receivers.
These devices include personal computers and peripheral devices, and electrical ballasts for fluorescent lights.
On the standard AM broadcast band, under 15.219, transmission power is limited by 100 milliwatts of DC input power to the final RF stage (with restrictions on size, height of, and type of antenna), or alternatively, under 15.221, if the AM transmission originates on the campus of an educational institution, the transmission can theoretically be any power so long as it does not exceed the field strength limits stated in 15.209 at the perimeter of the campus, 24,000/fkHz μV/m.
Unlicensed broadcasts on the FM broadcast band (88 to 108 MHz) are limited to a field strength of 250 microvolts per meter (~48 dBμ) measured at a distance of 3 meters. This corresponds to a maximum effective radiated power of 0.01 microwatts. Emissions must be kept within the 88.0 to 108.0 MHz band under 15.239 rules.
Unlicensed broadcasts on the TV broadcast bands are prohibited, except for certain medical telemetry devices and other low power auxiliary stations. 87.5 to 88.0 MHz is considered part of the VHF TV low band. For TV, 15.241 and 15.242 deal with high VHF (channels 7 to 13), 15.242 also deals with UHF (band IV and band V).
Frequently encountered types of "Part 15" transmitters include:
Electronic equipment from computers to intentional transmitters can produce unwanted radio signals and are subject to FCC regulation. For digital devices including computers and peripherals, FCC Class B is the more stringent standard, applying to equipment marketed for use in the home, even if it could be used elsewhere. Home users are likely to be annoyed by interference to TV and radio reception. Class A is a looser standard for equipment intended only for business, industrial and commercial settings.
Transmitters also must adhere to a spectral mask, to prevent adjacent-channel interference, intermediate frequency interference, and intermodulation.
The ISM radio bands are portions of the radio spectrum reserved internationally for industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) purposes, excluding applications in telecommunications. Examples of applications for the use of radio frequency (RF) energy in these bands include radio-frequency process heating, microwave ovens, and medical diathermy machines. The powerful emissions of these devices can create electromagnetic interference and disrupt radio communication using the same frequency, so these devices are limited to certain bands of frequencies. In general, communications equipment operating in ISM bands must tolerate any interference generated by ISM applications, and users have no regulatory protection from ISM device operation in these bands.
Frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) is a method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly changing the carrier frequency among many frequencies occupying a large spectral band. The changes are controlled by a code known to both transmitter and receiver. FHSS is used to avoid interference, to prevent eavesdropping, and to enable code-division multiple access (CDMA) communications.
Very high frequency (VHF) is the ITU designation for the range of radio frequency electromagnetic waves from 30 to 300 megahertz (MHz), with corresponding wavelengths of ten meters to one meter. Frequencies immediately below VHF are denoted high frequency (HF), and the next higher frequencies are known as ultra high frequency (UHF).
Ultra high frequency (UHF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies in the range between 300 megahertz (MHz) and 3 gigahertz (GHz), also known as the decimetre band as the wavelengths range from one meter to one tenth of a meter. Radio waves with frequencies above the UHF band fall into the super-high frequency (SHF) or microwave frequency range. Lower frequency signals fall into the VHF or lower bands. UHF radio waves propagate mainly by line of sight; they are blocked by hills and large buildings although the transmission through building walls is strong enough for indoor reception. They are used for television broadcasting, cell phones, satellite communication including GPS, personal radio services including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, walkie-talkies, cordless phones, satellite phones, and numerous other applications.
Low-power broadcasting is broadcasting by a broadcast station at a low transmitter power output to a smaller service area than "full power" stations within the same region. It is often distinguished from "micropower broadcasting" and broadcast translators. LPAM, LPFM and LPTV are in various levels of use across the world, varying widely based on the laws and their enforcement.
The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a land-mobile FM UHF radio service designed for short-range two-way voice communication and authorized under part 95 of the US FCC code. It requires a license in the United States, but some GMRS compatible equipment can be used license-free in Canada. The US GMRS license is issued for a period of 10 years by the FCC. The United States permits use by adult individuals who possess a valid GMRS license, as well as their immediate family members. Immediate relatives of the GMRS system licensee are entitled to communicate among themselves for personal or business purposes, but employees of the licensee who are not family members are not covered by the license. Non-family members must be licensed separately.
The radio spectrum is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum with frequencies from 3 Hz to 3,000 GHz (3 THz). Electromagnetic waves in this frequency range, called radio waves, are widely used in modern technology, particularly in telecommunication. To prevent interference between different users, the generation and transmission of radio waves is strictly regulated by national laws, coordinated by an international body, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
In the United States, the business band is the colloquial name used by radio users who utilize and scanner hobbyists who listen to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Industrial/Business pool frequencies. The regulations listing frequencies in this pool are contained in Subpart C of Part 90, Title 47 of the CFR.
In the United States, the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) is a licensed by rule two-way radio service similar to the Citizens band (CB). Established by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in the fall of 2000, MURS created a radio service allowing for licensed by rule operation in a narrow selection of the VHF band, with a power limit of 2 watts. The FCC formally defines MURS as "a private, two-way, short-distance voice or data communications service for personal or business activities of the general public." MURS stations may not be connected to the public telephone network, may not be used for store and forward operations, and radio repeaters are not permitted.
The Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) radio band, as defined by the United States Federal Communications Commission, is part of the radio frequency spectrum used by WLAN devices and by many wireless ISPs.
High-speed multimedia radio (HSMM) is the implementation of high-speed wireless TCP/IP data networks over amateur radio frequency allocations using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware such as 802.11 Wi-Fi access points. This is possible because the 802.11 unlicensed frequency bands partially overlap with amateur radio bands and ISM bands in many countries. Only licensed amateur radio operators may legally use amplifiers and high-gain antennas within amateur radio frequencies to increase the power and coverage of an 802.11 signal.
A wireless microphone, or cordless microphone, is a microphone without a physical cable connecting it directly to the sound recording or amplifying equipment with which it is associated. Also known as a radio microphone, it has a small, battery-powered radio transmitter in the microphone body, which transmits the audio signal from the microphone by radio waves to a nearby receiver unit, which recovers the audio. The other audio equipment is connected to the receiver unit by cable. In one type the transmitter is contained within the handheld microphone body. In another type the transmitter is contained within a separate unit called a "bodypack", usually clipped to the user's belt or concealed under their clothes. The bodypack is connected by wire to a "lavalier microphone" or "lav", a headset or earset microphone, or another wired microphone. Most bodypack designs also support a wired instrument connection. Wireless microphones are widely used in the entertainment industry, television broadcasting, and public speaking to allow public speakers, interviewers, performers, and entertainers to move about freely while using a microphone without requiring a cable attached to the microphone.
In the United States, the Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS), commonly called citizens band radio, is one of several personal radio services defined under Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 95. It is intended to be a two-way voice communication service for use in personal and business activities of the general public, and has a reliable communications range of several miles, though the range is highly dependent on type of radio, antenna and propagation.
The 5-centimeter or 5 GHz band is a portion of the SHF (microwave) radio spectrum internationally allocated to amateur radio and amateur satellite use on a secondary basis. In ITU regions 1 and 3, the amateur radio band is between 5,650 MHz and 5,850 MHz. In ITU region 2, the amateur radio band is between 5,650 MHz and 5,925 MHz. The amateur satellite service is allocated 5,830 to 5,850 MHz, for down-links only on a secondary basis, and it is also allocated 5,650 to 5,670 MHz, for up-links only on a non-interference basis to other users. Amateur stations must accept harmful interference from ISM users operating in the band. The band is within the IEEE C Band spectrum.
In telecommunications, white spaces refer to radio frequencies allocated to a broadcasting service but not used locally. National and international bodies assign frequencies for specific uses and, in most cases, license the rights to broadcast over these frequencies. This frequency allocation process creates a bandplan which for technical reasons assigns white space between used radio bands or channels to avoid interference. In this case, while the frequencies are unused, they have been specifically assigned for a purpose, such as a guard band. Most commonly however, these white spaces exist naturally between used channels, since assigning nearby transmissions to immediately adjacent channels will cause destructive interference to both.
Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 3 hertz (Hz) and 3,000 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transmitter connected to an antenna which radiates the waves, and received by another antenna connected to a radio receiver. Radio is widely used in modern technology, in radio communication, radar, radio navigation, remote control, remote sensing, and other applications.
The 13 centimeter, 2.3 GHz or 2.4 GHz band is a portion of the UHF (microwave) radio spectrum internationally allocated to amateur radio and amateur satellite use on a secondary basis. The amateur radio band is between 2300 MHz and 2450 MHz, and thereby inside the S-band. The amateur satellite band is between 2400 MHz and 2450 MHz, and its use by satellite operations is on a non-interference basis to other radio users. The license privileges of amateur radio operators include the use of frequencies and a wide variety of modes within these ranges for telecommunication. The allocations are the same in all three ITU Regions.
Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) is a wireless service specifically defined in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for transmission of data related to a patient's health (biotelemetry). It was created in 2000 because of interference issues due to establishment of digital television. The bands defined are 608-614 MHz, 1395-1400 MHz and 1427-1432 MHz. Devices using these bands are typically proprietary. Further, the use of these bands has not been internationally agreed to, so many times devices cannot be marketed or used freely in countries other than the United States.
Wireless microphones may operate over various frequencies, licensed or unlicensed depending upon the country.