The FCC has denied a request by Expert Linears America LLC to waive §97.317(a)(2) of the Amateur Service rules limiting amplifier gain. Expert, of Magnolia, Texas, distributes linears manufactured by SPE in Italy. Its waiver request, filed in June, would have allowed Expert to import an amplifier capable of exceeding the current 15 dB gain limitation as it awaits FCC action on its April petition (RM-11767) to revise the same Amateur Service rules. That petition remains pending. Expert has asserted that there should be no gain limitation on amplifiers sold or used in the Amateur Service. Most commenters supported Expert’s waiver request, but a couple of commenters — including FlexRadio — demurred.
“In light of the conflicting comments regarding the desirability of eliminating the 15 dB limitation, we conclude that waiving the limitation at this stage of the rulemaking proceeding would prejudice the rulemaking proceeding and prematurely dispose of commenters’ concerns,” the FCC said in denying the waiver. “Moreover, we agree with FlexRadio that granting Expert’s waiver request while the rulemaking petition remains pending would provide an unfair market advantage for one equipment model over other manufacturers’ RF power amplifiers that would still be limited by [the existing rules].”
The FCC said it would rather give full consideration to “the pending issues” and apply the result of the rulemaking proceeding to all Amateur Radio Service equipment. The Commission said rule waivers “generally” are not warranted “merely to accommodate technical parameters that are based solely on harmonization with the manufacturer’s products available abroad.”
The FCC said a minority of those commenting on the waiver request expressed concern that eliminating the 15 dB limitation would lead to an overall increase in power levels, “including transmissions that intentionally or unintentionally exceed the maximum power limit.”
In its April rulemaking petition, Expert maintained that the 15 dB gain limitation is an unneeded holdover from the days when amplifiers were less efficient and the FCC was attempting to rein in the use of Amateur Service amplifiers by Citizens Band operators.
Although the FCC had proposed in 2004 to delete the requirement that amplifiers be designed to use a minimum of 50 W of drive power — and subsequently did so — it did not further discuss the 15 dB limit in the subsequent Report and Order in that proceeding.
Expert has pointed to its Model 1.3K FA amplifier as an example of a linear “inherently capable of considerably more than 15 dB of amplification,” which would make it a suitable match for low-power transceivers now on the market.