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RF Shorts: Other Items of Interest - March 4, 2010

Last week we reported on the FCC allowing some surveillance robots to use the 420 MHz band. That band is currently shared by the U.S. government and amateur radio operators. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL), representing amateur radio operators, has released a detailed response to the FCC's action.

"While we are completely sympathetic to the desires of law enforcement and firefighting agencies and certain security personnel to have a tool like the Recon Scout at their disposal, the fact remains that 430-448 MHz is a poor choice of frequency range for such a device in the United States," said ARRL CEO David Sumner. "We share the concerns expressed by NTIA on behalf of the federal users of the band with regard to development of mass-marketed consumer devices that the Commission has no ability to control."

Sumner noted that it would have been in the best interest of everyone if the manufacturer of the robotic device, which was intended for military use abroad, had designed it to operate in a more suitable portion of the spectrum, rather than trying to legalize its domestic use in a band that is already occupied.

Maine Representative Andrea Boland wants labels on cell phones and packaging warning people about the potential for possible brain cancer, and recommending that users keep the devices away from their head and body. Mayor Gavin Newsom wants his city, San Francisco, to be the first to require warnings on cell phones. Bad science blog (what a great name!) has a good overview of the proposed legislation and challenging the science Boland and Newsom cite in support of their efforts. "So much bullshit and so little time..."

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.