Breaker! Breaker! FCC on deck to approve 11-meter FM CB
Michelle Bradley, CBT, KU3N.
July 15, 2021
Normally, three weeks prior to the monthly open meeting of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency releases drafts of the items they will be voting on in the meeting. These "circulation drafts" are not the exact wording of the final decisions, but they are a good sneak preview of what is to come.
The FCC is planning to vote on granting three Petitions for Reconsideration in the Part 95 Personal Radio Services in WT Docket 10-119. According to the circulation draft, the Commission intends to grant reconsideration to Motorola, who had proposed that GMRS and FRS units be permitted to send automatic data transmission of location information as well as the ability to send short text messages as well as a request by medical device maker Medtronic to fix some rules language as it applies to MedRadio service, an ultra-low power radio service for the transmission of non-voice data for the purpose of facilitating diagnostic and/or therapeutic functions involving implanted and body-worn medical devices.
But the most interesting of these petitions was the one by Cobra that originally asked the FCC to permit FM emmissions in the 27 MHz Citizens Band. Frequency modulation has been used for decades on 11 meters in many parts of Europe. The FCC originally rejected the idea of FM CB because it would "change the fundamental nature" of the radio service, but now, they have taken a new postion that FM CB would not change the nature of the service.and would "improve the customer experience".
Under the proposed revised rules, FM mode, like AM, will be limited to 4 watts. Radios will be limited to a +/- 2 kHz deviation, which matches the European Telecommunications Standard. There will be no expansion to the 40 channels in the service and there will be no restrictions on which of the 40 channels FM operation can take place. In order to assure maintain service compatability, the FCC will require that any CB radio marketed in the United States with FM mode must also have AM.
This news comes at a time when conditions on the 10 meter Amateur Radio Service band have been improving. This will also improve the ability to "shoot skip" in the 11 meter Citizens Band. FM operations in the 10 meter Amateur Radio Service band are mainly conducted on the spectrum between 29.5~29.7 MHz. Unlike CB, Amateur Radio is permitted to operate repeaters on 10 meter FM.
Also, in order to be "legal", all FM CB radios must be FCC certified and have an FCC ID number. This does not mean that radios that have been previously (illegally) imported into the United States are legal. In addition, uncertified transcievers for the Amateur Radio Service are not legal on the Part 95 CB frequencies.