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FCC part 90 radios

FCC part 90 radios

FCC part 90 radios

What is FCC Part 90?

FCC Part 90: Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR, provides guidance on the rules and regulations set forth by the FCC regarding wireless and radio communications. Created to protect manufacturers and end users alike, these regulations must be met by any organization looking to do business within the Wireless Communications Service, or WCS.

Compliance Testing has over 50 years of experience bringing communications products to market in American and international markets. Meeting the strenuous and detailed requirements of the FCC and other regulatory bodies can be difficult, but Compliance Testing is here to make certification a reality for even the largest operations.

FCC Part 90 Testing Overview

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Part 90 testing is required for radio products that fall into a licensed band as defined in FCC Part 2.106. These radios bands are defined as Public Land Mobile Radio Services (PLMR). Typical types of radios that require Part 90 certification are Radiolocation devices, Paging devices, Commercial Radio service, Public Safety radios (Police, Fire etc.).

Groups such as search and rescues teams, emergency services and even public transit drivers all rely on a public safety radio pool. While manufacturers of products used under FCC Part 90 are the ones required to meet FCC requirements, the end user group is the target demographic when safety guidelines are implemented within the CFR.

Organizations that fall in the private sector of radio pools are considered to be industrial or business pools. Hospitals, schools, commercial sites and churches can access private radio pools licensed under FCC Part 90.

Lastly, FCC Part 90 covers radiolocation service licensing and approval. Radiolocation provides travel data for use in navigation. With the added concern of privacy attached to location services, the FCC requires that any party engaged in or providing radiolocation services to be licensed prior to launching their service.

Private FCC Part 90 Testing

Preparing a radio station to pass FCC Part 90 testing requires thorough documentation on behalf of your engineers and Compliance Testing team. Part 90 of the CFR will provide you with everything you need to know regarding FCC regulations, but interpreting and implementing these requirements will look different for each station.

Fixed, based and mobile stations all have separate requirements in order to apply under FCC Part 90. Each piece of equipment expected to be used during operation will be reviewed with supplemental information being provided to the FCC by Compliance Testing to help expedite the process.

Part 90 testing requirements are defined in Part 2 of the FCC Rules, which applies to all the Rule parts. The limits and specific frequency allocations are found in Part 90. For any radio device, the following measurements must (generally) be made:

§2.1046: Measurements required: RF power output.
§2.1047: Measurements required: Modulation characteristics.
§2.1049: Measurements required: Occupied bandwidth.
§2.1051: Measurements required: Spurious emissions at antenna terminals.
§2.1053: Measurements required: Field strength of spurious radiation.
§2.1055: Measurements required: Frequency stability.

The limits in Part 90 apply to the different uses of the spectrum in the bands, which can be found in Subpart B (for Public Safety) and Subpart C (for Industrial/Business Pool). Other sections specify the radio operating conditions for UHF-TV Sharing, Intelligent Transportation Systems Radio Service and other miscellaneous usages of the spectrum.

Certification is required for all intentional emitters (transmitters) operating under any Rule Part (not just this part). It is a formal process that requires that a device be tested and technical information provided to a Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB), which has been authorized by the FCC to provide the Certification. Tests are typically performed on a bench using conducted means (attenuators, filters, spectrum analyzer, power meters) and the power is listed on the Grant of Equipment Authorization that is issued by the TCB. As shown in the list of measurements required, each limit must be met. Specific Spectrum Masks may also be required. A Spectrum Mask shows the frequency and output limits as a function of frequency and are specific for the channelization and usage of the radio.

After a certification is issued, the user of the equipment must get a license to operate the device or system. These licenses are frequency and location-dependent, that is, the purpose of the requirements is to coordinate the frequencies and services of these commercial and public frequencies so that the spectrum is used efficiently and without interference with/from other users. This is achieved by the use of Frequency Coordinators.

The FCC has been authorized by Congress to certify private organizations to act as Frequency Coordinators. A user may use any Frequency Coordinator that is authorized in the area they wish to operate. Before a new radio system is placed into operation, the user must go through a frequency coordination process, which will help determine which frequencies are available in the area they wish to operate.


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