The FCC has put on public notice and invited comments on a Petition for Rule Making (RM-11767), filed on behalf of an amateur amplifier distributor, which seeks to revise the Amateur Service rules regarding maximum permissible amplifier gain. Expert Linears America LLC of Magnolia, Texas, which distributes linears manufactured by SPE in Italy, wants the FCC to eliminate the 15 dB gain limitation on amateur amplifiers, spelled out in §97.317(a)(2). Expert asserts that there should be no gain limitation at all on amplifiers sold or used in the Amateur Service.
“There is no technical or regulatory reason [that] an amplifier capable of being driven to full legal output by even a fraction of a watt should not be available to Amateur Radio operators in the United States,” Expert said in its Petition.
Expert maintains 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. While the FCC proposed in its 2004 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order in WT Docket 04-140 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 amplification limit in the subsequent Report and Order in the docket.
“Although no party advocated retention of the 15 dB limit, it remains in place today,” Expert pointed out in its filing. “In the intervening years, advancements in Amateur Radio transmitter technology have led to the availability of highly compact, sophisticated low-power transmitters that require more than 15 dB of amplification to achieve maximum legal power output. Therefore, Expert seeks to remove the 15 dB limit from §97.317 so that Amateur Radio manufacturers and distributors will not be forced to needlessly cripple their amplifiers for sale in the United States.”
Expert 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 having output power on the order of 10 W.