Federal Communications Communications Order 97-334 of 1997

DA 97-334

February 13, 1997


It has come to our attention that entities are offering to modify scanning receivers (scanners) in order to receive frequencies allocated to the Domestic Public Cellular Radio Telecommunications Service. Such modifications are not permitted under federal law and the Commission's rules.

Scanners are radio receivers that can automatically switch between four or more frequencies anywhere in the frequency range of 30-960 MHz. On April 19,1993, the Commission adopted a Report and Order in ET Docket 93-1 amending Parts 2 and 15 of the FCC Rules to prohibit the manufacture and importation of scanners capable of receiving, or readily being altered to receive, frequencies allocated to the Cellular Radio Service. The Commission adopted these rules to implement Section 302(d) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (47 USC 302 (d)).

Scanning receivers are required by Section 15.101(a) of the FCC Rules to be certificated by the Commission. Section 15.121 states that scanning receivers, and frequency converters designed or marketed for use with scanning receivers, must be incapable of operating (tuning), or readily being altered by the user to operate, within the frequency bands allocated to the Domestic Public Cellular Radio Telecommunications Service. Scanners that are capable of "readily being altered by the user" include, but are not limited to: those for which the ability to receive cellular telephone frequencies can be added by clipping the leads of, or installing, a simple component, such as a diode, resistor and/or jumper wire; replacing a plug-in semiconductor chip; or programming a semiconductor chip using special access codes or an external device. Scanners and frequency converters for use with scanners, must also be incapable of converting digital cellular frequencies to analog voice audio. Under Section 15.37(f), the manufacture or importation of scanning receivers, and frequency converters used with scanning receivers, that do not comply with Section 15.121 shall cease on or before April 26, 1994.

Manufacturing a scanner to receive cellular telephone frequencies is a violation of Section 302(d) of the Communications Act (47 USC. Section 302(d)) and Sections 15.37(f) and 15.121 of the Rules (47 CFR 15.37(f) and 15.121). The modification of scanners on a substantial scale to receive cellular frequencies will be considered to constitute manufacture of such equipment in violation of FCC Rules. Entities engaged in such activity are cautioned to cease advertising and/or performing any such activity immediately.

The Commission will vigorously take enforcement action against parties found to violate these rules. Willful or repeated violations may be subject to a monetary forfeiture of not more than $10,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, except that the amount assessed for any continuing violation shall not exceed a total of $75,000. See 47 CFR 1.80(a). Further, pursuant to 47 U.S.C Section 510, such devices may be seized and forfeited to the United States.

Use of scanners by individuals to intercept and divulge or use beneficially wireless telephone conversations is subject to Section 705 of the Act. Other Federal and State statutes also apply in this area. For more information regarding the interception and divulgence of radio communications, see FCC FACT SHEET, "Interception and Divulgence of Radio Communications," dated January 1997, which can be obtained by calling the Public Service Division at 202-418-0200 or accessing it on the Commission Internet web site at http://www.fcc.gov/Consumer_Info.html/.

By the Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology
Additional questions concerning this notice may be addressed to Art Wall at 301-725-1585 (ext. 205), fax: (301) 344 2050, email: awall@fcc.gov.

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