US no-license for USRP info?

Looking at < http://www.ettus.com/faq.html >:
“The USRP is sold as test equipment, which has no licensing
requirements.”

Can someone with experience in this area please explain to me the
relevant -specific- portion(s) of the US law/code regarding the
USRP? Please do not say “Part 15” since that’s a large chunk of
writing. I’m looking for (example) “15.103 ©” as a specific
portion (which, btw, is interesting but IMHO not applicable to the
USRP). Thanks in advance! - MLD

I am not a lawyer (IANAL). The following comments deal with US laws and
policies as I understand them.

The basic idea as to how USRP’s can be sold to an unlicensed user is
that
they are sold as “Radio Test Parts” - that is, you assemble it yourself
into
a functional receiver/transmitter. Furthermore, it needs software (that
Matt doesn’t provide) in order to create a functional radio system.
That’s
how you legally obtain the USRP.

Reception of radio transmissions is a protected activity in the US -
that
is, you can implicitly do it unless specifically told not to - in the US
(where the USRP is made and sold) with the exception of cellular
telephone
bands (that’s the “not to” part). The USRP daughter boards that
transmit
and receive on those protected frequencies have a filter for those
frequencies by default. But since the USRP is an international product
(used all over the world), the block is not difficult to bypass for
users in
other countries that are not restricted or use different bands.

Transmission is restricted by both frequency and power depending on what
license you have.

For instance, Title 47 Part 95 covers all “Personal Communications”,
which
includes the frequency band used by CB radios (CFR, 95.401), as well as
the
Family Radio Service (CFR, Part 95.191-95.194). Products sold that use
these two bands are reviewed by the FCC to ensure they don’t exceed
power
and frequency restrictions for those bands. There are etiquette rules
to
follow using these bands, but they are otherwise unrestricted. There
are
also additional PC bands (GMRS, for instance) that require a license
which
is not difficult to obtain. Great page with lots of info for these
services
can be found here:
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr95_07.html If you
used
your USRP on these bands and stayed within the legal power levels, I
doubt
there would be a real problem. Technically, the USRP has not been
reviewed
to transmit on those bands, but… if you’re following the power and
frequency guidelines, I’d imagine you’d not be hassled.

If you have obtained a HAM radio license, then you’ll legally have
access to
a wide range of bands and considerably high power systems. Part 97
covers
all of that. If you get a license, you’ll know what bands and power
you’ll
be permitted - it’s part of the test. :slight_smile: Part 97 data is here:
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr97_07.html

Most any other bands not covered in the Personal or HAM bands are
generally
restricted from use unless specifically licensed.

I’m sorry, I know I’m not being terribly specific like you asked, but…
you’re not asking very specific questions. Obtaining the USRP is
perfectly
legal. What you intend to do with it is up to you. Depending on the
frequency, power levels, and potential disruption to other radio devices
(a
big no-no in the US), different regulations will apply.

I hope this helps some,


Dave K., CISSP
Contributing Author, Security Power Tools
KI6KVY

It is not legal to use “homebrew” equipment to transmit on any of the
Part
95 personal communications services (e.g. FRS, GMRS, CB, MURS) or in
fact in
any service other than the amateur radio service. Any transmitter to be
used in any licensed service (other than the amateur service), whether
licensed-by-rule or individually licensed, must have had its
manufacturing
design certified by the FCC, and any modifications thereto made
consistent
with the rather complicated rules in Part 2. However, as the FCC does
not
actively regulate the Part 95 services (that is, they typically only
investigate complaints regarding activities in these bands when they
create
problems in other services, or have implications beyond merely being
annoying to other licensees), you can probably get away with
transmitting in
these services with uncertificated radios. Just make sure your spurious
emissions are under control; if you are splattering into a band
allocated to
another service, you might find yourself the subject of an interference
complaint, and if the investigation determines that you’re using an
uncertificated radio, you will get slapped with an “unauthorized
operation”
citation and quite possibly a forfeiture.

I imagine most USRP uses in the US that involve transmit are conducted
either within the limits for Part 15 intentional radiators, or within
the
scope of the amateur radio service. Note that Part 15 allows low power
operations in quite a lot of spectrum; for example, you can transmit in
at
least part of the FM broadcast band within the limits of Part 15 as long
as
you keep your power low enough. Unfortunately, Part 15 is very very
complicated and figuring out if a particular use or purpose is permitted
under it, and if so under what conditions, can be quite challenging.

It is likely the case that any USRP-based application would be unable to
be
certified due to the FCC’s requirement for certification that the
programming of a software-defined radio must be locked so as to prevent
the
end user from changing it. It’s an open question (as far as I know)
whether
you can bundle a USRP, some daughterboards, and a software load together
and
sell that, but I strongly suspect the answer to that is a no, as such a
bundle would amount to a transmitter under FCC regs (if a TX
daughterboard
is present) and would have to be certified before it could be sold, and
because of the USRP’s ready reprogrammability will necessarily fail the
lockdown rules imposed by section 2.944.

Kelly

On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 9:33 PM, Dave K. [email protected]

Does anyone know what the export situation is for the USRP? Seems to me
even in receive only mode their must be some objective criterion (tune
range, speed, bandwidth, etc.) that determines whether usrp can or
cannot be exported? Also, since the usrp is being used in
government/military applications, why doesn’t ITAR apply to it?

Thanks,
Clark

Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2008 22:44:48 -0500From:
[email protected]: [email protected]: Re:
[Discuss-gnuradio] US no-license for USRP info?CC: It is not legal to
use “homebrew” equipment to transmit on any of the Part 95 personal
communications services (e.g. FRS, GMRS, CB, MURS) or in fact in any
service other than the amateur radio service. Any transmitter to be
used in any licensed service (other than the amateur service), whether
licensed-by-rule or individually licensed, must have had its
manufacturing design certified by the FCC, and any modifications thereto
made consistent with the rather complicated rules in Part 2. However,
as the FCC does not actively regulate the Part 95 services (that is,
they typically only investigate complaints regarding activities in these
bands when they create problems in other services, or have implications
beyond merely being annoying to other licensees), you can probably get
away with transmitting in these services with uncertificated radios.
Just make sure your spurious emissions are under control; if you are
splattering into a band allocated to another service, you might find
yourself the subject of an interference complaint, and if the
investigation determines that you’re using an uncertificated radio, you
will get slapped with an “unauthorized operation” citation and quite
possibly a forfeiture.I imagine most USRP uses in the US that involve
transmit are conducted either within the limits for Part 15 intentional
radiators, or within the scope of the amateur radio service. Note that
Part 15 allows low power operations in quite a lot of spectrum; for
example, you can transmit in at least part of the FM broadcast band
within the limits of Part 15 as long as you keep your power low enough.
Unfortunately, Part 15 is very very complicated and figuring out if a
particular use or purpose is permitted under it, and if so under what
conditions, can be quite challenging.It is likely the case that any
USRP-based application would be unable to be certified due to the FCC’s
requirement for certification that the programming of a software-defined
radio must be locked so as to prevent the end user from changing it.
It’s an open question (as far as I know) whether you can bundle a USRP,
some daughterboards, and a software load together and sell that, but I
strongly suspect the answer to that is a no, as such a bundle would
amount to a transmitter under FCC regs (if a TX daughterboard is
present) and would have to be certified before it could be sold, and
because of the USRP’s ready reprogrammability will necessarily fail the
lockdown rules imposed by section 2.944.Kelly
On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 9:33 PM, Dave K. [email protected]
wrote:
I am not a lawyer (IANAL). The following comments deal with US laws and
policies as I understand them.The basic idea as to how USRP’s can be
sold to an unlicensed user is that they are sold as “Radio Test Parts” -
that is, you assemble it yourself into a functional
receiver/transmitter. Furthermore, it needs software (that Matt doesn’t
provide) in order to create a functional radio system. That’s how you
legally obtain the USRP.Reception of radio transmissions is a protected
activity in the US - that is, you can implicitly do it unless
specifically told not to - in the US (where the USRP is made and sold)
with the exception of cellular telephone bands (that’s the “not to”
part). The USRP daughter boards that transmit and receive on those
protected frequencies have a filter for those frequencies by default.
But since the USRP is an international product (used all over the
world), the block is not difficult to bypass for users in other
countries that are not restricted or use different bands.Transmission is
restricted by both frequency and power depending on what license you
have. For instance, Title 47 Part 95 covers all “Personal
Communications”, which includes the frequency band used by CB radios
(CFR, 95.401), as well as the Family Radio Service (CFR, Part
95.191-95.194). Products sold that use these two bands are reviewed by
the FCC to ensure they don’t exceed power and frequency restrictions for
those bands. There are etiquette rules to follow using these bands, but
they are otherwise unrestricted. There are also additional PC bands
(GMRS, for instance) that require a license which is not difficult to
obtain. Great page with lots of info for these services can be found
here: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr95_07.html If
you used your USRP on these bands and stayed within the legal power
levels, I doubt there would be a real problem. Technically, the USRP
has not been reviewed to transmit on those bands, but… if you’re
following the power and frequency guidelines, I’d imagine you’d not be
hassled.If you have obtained a HAM radio license, then you’ll legally
have access to a wide range of bands and considerably high power
systems. Part 97 covers all of that. If you get a license, you’ll know
what bands and power you’ll be permitted - it’s part of the test. :slight_smile:
Part 97 data is here:
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr97_07.html Most any
other bands not covered in the Personal or HAM bands are generally
restricted from use unless specifically licensed.I’m sorry, I know I’m
not being terribly specific like you asked, but… you’re not asking
very specific questions. Obtaining the USRP is perfectly legal. What
you intend to do with it is up to you. Depending on the frequency,
power levels, and potential disruption to other radio devices (a big
no-no in the US), different regulations will apply.I hope this helps
some,-- Dave K., CISSPContributing Author, Security Power
ToolsKI6KVY

On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 11:01 AM, Michael D. [email protected]
wrote:
Looking at < http://www.ettus.com/faq.html >:"The USRP is sold as test
equipment, which has no licensing requirements."Can someone with
experience in this area please explain to me the relevant -specific-
portion(s) of the US law/code regarding the USRP? Please do not say
“Part 15” since that’s a large chunk of writing. I’m looking for
(example) “15.103 ©” as a specific portion (which, btw, is interesting
but IMHO not applicable to the USRP). Thanks in advance! - MLD

On Mon, 30 Jun 2008, Clark P. wrote:

Does anyone know what the export situation is for the USRP? Seems to
me even in receive only mode their must be some objective criterion
(tune range, speed, bandwidth, etc.) that determines whether usrp can
or cannot be exported? Also, since the usrp is being used in
government/military applications, why doesn’t ITAR apply to it?

ISTR it comes down to digitiser speed & bit width and computing power.

The USRP isn’t particularly great in either regard (no offense
intended :slight_smile: so I don’t think it would be an issue…

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