Class Licence for Citizens Band Radio Station. Statement of the Telecommunications Authority. 20 January 2006

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1 Introduction Class Licence for Citizens Band Radio Station Statement of the Telecommunications Authority 20 January 2006 On 23 May 2005, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority ( OFTA ) issued a consultation paper entitled Consultation Paper on the Creation of a Class Licence for Citizens Band Radio Station under section 7B(2) of the Telecommunications Ordinance ( First Consultation Paper ). Having considered the views received, OFTA issued a second consultation paper entitled Class Licence for Citizens Band Radio Station Analysis of Comments Received, Preliminary Conclusions and Further Consultation ( Second Consultation Paper ) on 16 December These consultations aim to seek views from the general public for the Telecommunications Authority ( TA ) to create a class licence for the portable and mobile Citizens Band radios ( CB radios ) in the MHz band (the Class Licence ). Under the class licensing scheme, no individual licence application is required for the grant of the Class Licence. This ensures users will enjoy the use of CB radios without unnecessary licensing burden. 3. By the deadline of the consultation period on 6 January 2006, the TA received a total of seven submissions: A Hong Kong citizen ( Citizen A ) DVX2RV Hong Kong Amateur Radio Transmitting Society ( HARTS ) Hong Kong Cable TV Limited ( HKCTV ) QSQUAD857 Steven Beesley ( Beesley ) 伍嘉明 ( KMNG ) 1

2 The full submissions can be downloaded from OFTA s website at 2/table.html. 4. After considering the comments received, the TA sets out in this Statement his views on the submissions and his decisions on this matter. Allowing the Use of CB Radio under the Class Licence 5. In the Second Consultation Paper, the TA has proposed to allow the public to use portable and mobile CB radios under the Class Licence, subject to the restriction that indoor use of CB radios to transmit radio signals is not permitted. For indoor use of CB radios, only the receiving mode is permitted so as to minimise the chance of radio interference to the frequency channels operating in the in-building coaxial cable distribution systems ( IBCCDS ). 6. Of the seven submissions received, four submissions (Beesley, Citizen A, HARTS and QSQUAD857) support the TA s proposal of allowing the use of CB radios under the Class Licence. DVX2RV, HKCTV and KMNG have reservations on TA s proposal. 7. Beesley points out that adding a CB radio channel for emergency communications will be of great help to the safety of hikers. He further points out that CB radios have been in operation for decades in Japan, Australia, Korea, the UK, Europe and the United States without any problems with other services such as cable TV. He considers that the onus should be on the cable TV operator to ensure that their equipment and installations are protected from radio interference. Citizen A supports the proposal because allowing the public use of CB radios will add another frequency band for radio users and the proposed emergency communications channel will help to enhance the safety of the public, in particular, in rural areas. HARTS and QSQUAD857 share similar views that restricting CB transmission to outdoors only is a simple and effective method to resolve HKCTV s concerns regarding radio interference caused by CB radios to the frequency channels of the IBCCDS. 2

3 8. HKCTV notes the TA s intention to restrict the indoor operation of CB radios to reception only in order to minimize the chance of causing radio interference to frequency channels of the IBCCDS. However, it doubts whether the TA can police the improper indoor use of CB radios and whether there is sufficient sanction against contravention of the licence condition. DVX2RV shares similar concern. In addition, DVX2RV has also concern on the effective enforcement against improper use of CB radios at fixed locations and non-type-approved equipment. 9. DVX2RV objects to the TA s proposal of creating the Class Licence and points out the weakness of CB radios including bulky equipment size with long antenna, large power consumption, prone to interference, insufficient product supply, etc. DVX2RV also suspects that overpowered CB radios would interfere with the micro-controller unit of vehicle and might have caused traffic casualty in overseas countries. KMNG considers that 27 MHz equipment is out-dated and will cause interference to television reception. He requests the TA to allow the general public to use the MHz band equipment in the form of temporary permission. 10. In addressing the concern on effective enforcement against the improper use of CB radios both at indoor and fixed locations, and non-type-approved equipment, the TA would like to point out that OFTA, as the spectrum manager in Hong Kong, is charged with the responsibility to combat improper radio operation. OFTA has the necessary equipment and technical expertise to tackle improper use of radio equipment at any locations in Hong Kong, including indoor premises. Similar to other OFTA s day to day operation in tracking down interference sources, the TA does not see any additional and insurmountable difficulties in tracking down the improper use of CB radios. OFTA will take effective enforcement actions against any improper operation of CB radios in breach of the licence conditions of the Class Licence. 11. As regards sanction against improper CB radios users, under section 36C of the Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap 106), the TA may impose financial penalty on those persons who fail to comply with the licence conditions of the Class Licence. The maximum penalty for the first occasion of imposition of such penalty is $200,000. In order to 3

4 ensure all CB radios users are aware of the proper use of CB radios, OFTA will issue guidelines on the use of CB radios which will alert the CB radios users of their obligations to comply with the requirement of the Class Licence including restriction on indoor use, separate licensing requirement for operation CB radios at fixed locations and the need to use type-approved CB radios. 12. The TA notes DVX2VR s comment that he suspects that there might have been traffic casualty caused by overpowered CB radios in overseas countries. The TA has already set out in the Class Licence, that users shall only use type-approved CB radios meeting the specifications approved by the TA. In the relevant specifications for CB radios, OFTA has restricted the maximum power of CB radios to the levels in line with the operation of CB radios in overseas countries. As mentioned above, OFTA will take effective enforcement action against improper use of CB radios including those overpowered equipment. One of the enforcement actions taken by OFTA is to conduct roadblock operation jointly with the Police. In 2005, OFTA has conducted 100 roadblock operations/inspections covering about 1,300 vehicles. Such operations are considered effective to deter drivers to install non-type-approved mobile CB radios in their vehicles. 13. On the comments regarding the bulky size of CB radios, the TA agrees that CB radios are larger in size than that of 409 MHz walkie-talkies. This is the trade-off for having a longer communications distance. The permitted use of CB radios will allow the users to have additional choice of walkie-talkies. Users may take their own decision to use CB radios and/or 409 MHz walkie-talkies. Regarding the size of 1.2 m antenna mentioned in DVX2RV s submission, the TA wishes to point out that it is only one type of antennas deployed for CB portable radio and mostly for CB mobile radio installed on vehicles. In the market, CB portable radio with shorter antenna of 0.25 m length is also commonly available. 14. As regards KMNG s request for the TA to allow the general public to use the MHz band equipment in the form of temporary permission, the TA would like to point out that there are existing users in the MHz band and the TA is therefore not 4

5 prepared to open this band for public use. However, the TA would like to re-iterate that it is the government s policy to promote efficient use of radio spectrum and one way to achieve this objective is to allocate radio spectrum which access is open to all users. OFTA will continue to pursue this objective and make available more frequency bands for open access. 15. The other concern raised by KMNG on potential interference to television reception has been addressed by the TA in the First Consultation Paper. In order to avoid potential interference to television reception, the TA has proposed that CB radios installed at fixed locations will need to be licensed and the application will be considered on a case by case basis. 16. As regards Beesley s view that the onus should be on the cable TV operator to ensure that their equipment and installations are protected from radio interference, the TA wishes to point out that the interference caused by CB radios to IBCCDS is due to coupling through the horizontal drop cables of the IBCCDS and the indoor coaxial cables inside the premises. To avoid interference, it will be necessary to require the owners of the premises and the building management office/incorporated owners to replace the coaxial cables. This will cause cost burden as well as inconvenience to the users and the building management office/incorporated owners. 17. Having considered the comments received, the TA decides to allow the public use of portable and mobile CB radios under the Class Licence, subject to the restriction that indoor use of CB radios to transmit radio signals is not permitted. For indoor use of CB radios under the Class Licence, only the receiving mode is permitted. CB Radios Installed at Fixed Locations 18. In the Second Consultation Paper, the TA maintains his view that CB radios installed at fixed locations should not be permitted under the Class Licence. HARTS agrees with the TA that CB radios installed at fixed locations should not be permitted under the Class Licence and that 5

6 fixed CB radio installations would be better handled by the TA licensing on a case by case basis subject to licensing controls as described in the Second Consultation Paper. 19. Having considered the comments, the TA decides that CB radios installed at fixed locations shall not be permitted under the Class Licence. The TA may license CB radios installed at fixed locations on a case by case basis. Safe Use of Mobile CB Radio 20. In the First Consultation Paper, the TA has recommended that users are required to follow the safety regulation in other laws in Hong Kong such as using hands-free kits in the course of CB radio communications when driving vehicles. HARTS points out that it is a safety requirement that communications devices used by the driver of a vehicle should have hands-free microphone and suggests that OFTA should co-ordinate with the Transport Department to ensure that CB radios sold for use in a vehicle can have hands-free microphones. 21. The TA wishes to point out that it is a restriction under the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations (Cap 374) that the driver shall not use a telecommunications equipment in a moving vehicle by holding it in his hand. Such a restriction would not apply to passenger in a moving vehicle or the driver of the vehicle if the vehicle is not in motion. For the mobile CB radios in vehicles, driver should be allowed to use the CB radios without hands-free microphones if the vehicle is not in motion. As such the TA considers that it should be up to the market to decide whether the CB radios sold for use in vehicles should be equipped with hands-free microphones or not. Type-approval and Labelling 22. HARTS agrees with the TA that CB radios for use in Hong Kong should be type-approved under the Compulsory Certification Scheme. There is no other further view and comment on the issue of type-approval 6

7 and labelling requirement in the Second Consultation paper. 23. The TA decides that CB radios for use in Hong Kong shall be type-approved under the Compulsory Certification Scheme. Vendors will be allowed to affix a prescribed certification label on their CB radios which have been type-approved by OFTA. 24. Though the attachment of the certification label is on a voluntary basis, the TA believes that equipment suppliers will affix the certification label to CB radios in order to enable users to check compliance of their radios. The TA will encourage equipment suppliers to affix the certification label when issuing type-approval certificate to them. OFTA has informed and will continue to inform the public about radio equipment labelling arrangement. Channel 9 for Emergency Communications 25. In the Second Consultation Paper, the TA recommends Channel 9 should be used as the channel for emergency communications. Moreover, similar to other countries, the channel will be monitored by the non-governmental organisations on a voluntary basis. 26. HARTS agrees to the TA s approach to promoting Channel 9 as a distress channel monitored by other users and/or non-governmental organisations on a voluntary basis. Beesley considers that hikers will be allowed another means of communications in case of emergencies to summon help and the use of Channel 9 as an emergency channel should further enhance safety. QSQUAD857 agrees with the TA s recommendation of using Channel 9 as the channel for emergency communications. Citizen A proposes OFTA to seriously consider the provision of emergency channel monitoring and geo-location services for emergency communication. He also proposes OFTA to regulate the use of Channel 9 for emergency calls on 409 MHz and CB radios. 27. It should be clarified that the TA has not legally designated Channel 9 of 409 MHz walkie-talkies for emergency communications. OFTA has only encouraged 409 MHz radio users to restrict the use of 7

8 Channel 9 to emergency communications as far as possible. For CB radios, the TA has made a similar recommendation. The TA has no plan to designate legally Channel 9 for emergency communications and is not aware of any plan by governmental bodies to monitor the content of the communications in that channel. It should be noted that emergency communications in Channel 9 of CB radios are similarly monitored by non-governmental bodies on a voluntary basis in other countries. 28. DVX2RV suggests the TA to encourage the use of Channel 9 in 409 MHz walkie-talkies only. The TA does not see any demerits to also encourage CB radio users to use Channel 9 as an emergency communications channel. Both CB radios and 409 MHz walkie-talkies are radio equipment with multi-communications channels for use by the public. To encourage the use of Channel 9 of one of the radio equipment but not the other would even cause confusion to the public. 29. Having considered the views received, the TA maintains his decision that Channel 9 should be used for the purposes of emergency communications as far as possible. In line with the practice adopted in overseas countries, the Government will not monitor Channel 9, but will encourage 409 MHz radio and CB radio users and non-government bodies to do so on a voluntary basis. As mentioned in the Second Consultation Paper, the TA will raise public awareness through public education. OFTA will publish leaflets for distribution to the public and will continue to work with organizations such as amateur radio societies and hikers associations, with a view to enhancing the public awareness on the use of Channel 9 and that Channel 9 should not be used except for emergency communications. Specifications of CB Radios 30. In the Second Consultation Paper, the TA has proposed to set the maximum power level for single-sideband modulation at sea to 12 watts (peak envelope power) and that Double-Sideband Amplitude Modulation, Single-Sideband Amplitude Modulation, Phase Modulation and Frequency Modulation be permitted under the Class Licence. The full sets of specifications for CB radios are given in HKTA 1022 and draft 8

9 HKTA 1050 specifications. 31. HARTS agrees with TA s proposed specification for modulation types but suggests adding in brackets to the Class Licence text, common acronyms for the same (e.g. AM, USB, LSB, FM, PM) that exist as marking on CB radio equipment and in their user manuals, so that the public can better understand what the relevant terms refer to. The TA thanks HARTS for the suggestion and has added the acronyms in brackets following the terms in full in the Class Licence. 32. In accordance to the established procedures for devising specifications for telecommunications and radiocommunications equipment, OFTA has circulated HKTA 1022 and the draft HKTA 1050 Specifications among members of the Telecommunications Standards Advisory Committee ( TSAC ) for their comments. OFTA has received two submissions from the TSAC members but there was no adverse comment on the specifications. The TA decides to adopt the specifications outlined in HKTA 1022 and HKTA 1050 for CB radios. Sale of Non-type-approved CB Radios Not Allowed 33. In the First Consultation Paper, the TA has proposed that the Radio Dealer Licence will be amended to restrict the radio dealers for sale of non-type-approved CB radios. At the same time the TA issued the Second Consultation Paper, the TA has also issued a circular letter to all holders of Radio Dealer Licence (Unrestricted) to draw their attention to the proposal on restriction of sales of non-type-approved CB radios set out in the Second Consultation Paper. By the closing of the consultation, the TA has not received any comments from the radio dealers on the proposal. Therefore, the TA decides to restrict the sales of non-type-approved CB radios in Hong Kong. 34. As mentioned in the Second Consultation Paper, the TA will give a grace period of three months, from the issue of the Class Licence, to the radio dealers to dispose of the stocks which do not comply with the prescribed specifications for CB radios. After the grace period, the TA will restrict the sales of non-type-approved CB radios by including an 9

10 amended condition into the Radio Dealer Licence (Unrestricted) during the annual licence renewal. Commencement of the Class Licence 35. The Class Licence annexed to this Statement is the finalized version. The Class Licence is issued by the TA under sections 7(5) and 7B(2) of the Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap 106) with immediate effect. Concurrently, the TA publishes today, 20 January 2006, the Class Licence in the Gazette. Office of the Telecommunications Authority 20 January

11 Annex TELECOMMUNICATIONS ORDINANCE (Chapter 106) CLASS LICENCE CITIZENS BAND RADIO STATION The Telecommunications Authority, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by sections 7(5) and 7B(2) of the Telecommunications Ordinance (Chapter 106), issues this Licence on this 20th day of January, Interpretation 1.1 In this Licence Authority means the Telecommunications Authority appointed under section 5 of the Ordinance; Citizens Band radio station or CB station means a radio station falling within the description of the Schedule to this Licence; Licensee means a person licensed under Condition 2 of this Licence; Ordinance means Telecommunications Ordinance (Chapter 106); and Telecommunication Convention means any Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union and the Radio Regulations annexed thereto, which have from time to time or at any time been acceded to by or applied to Hong Kong. 11

12 1.2 Any word or expression used in this Licence shall, unless otherwise provided, have the same meaning as it has in the Ordinance or regulations made under the Ordinance. 1.3 For the purposes of interpreting this Licence, headings and titles shall be disregarded. 2. Grant of Licence 2.1 Subject to the terms and conditions of this Licence, a person is licensed to maintain, possess and use the CB station described in the Schedule. 3. General 3.1 This Licence shall not be construed as granting an exclusive right to the Licensee. 3.2 This Licence replaces any licence or any exemption from licensing, however described, which the Authority may have granted to the Licensee. 3.3 This Licence shall remain in full force unless expressly revoked by the Authority. 4. Compliance Generally 4.1 The Licensee shall comply with the Ordinance, regulations made under the Ordinance, licence conditions or any other instruments which may be issued by the Authority under the Ordinance and such guidelines or Codes of Practices which may be issued by the Authority as in his opinion are suitable for the purpose of providing practical guidance on any particular aspect of any conditions of the Licence. 12

13 4.2 The Licensee shall observe and comply with the relevant provisions of the Telecommunication Convention. 4.3 The Licensee shall not use the CB station to provide a public telecommunications service. 4.4 The Licensee is restricted to use the CB station for voice communications only. 4.5 The Licensee shall not use the CB station at indoor locations to transmit any radio signals. For the avoidance of doubt, indoor use of the CB station for reception of radio signals is permitted. 5. Interference 5.1 The Licensee shall take reasonable measures to operate, maintain and use the CB station in such a way as not to cause any direct or indirect harmful interference with any lawful telecommunications service or any telecommunications apparatus licensed or authorised under the Ordinance. 5.2 The CB station shall be made available for inspection and testing, if so required, by any person authorised for the purpose by the Authority. 5.3 The Authority may give such reasonable directions as he thinks fit to avoid any direct or indirect harmful interference referred to in Condition 5.1. The Licensee shall comply with the directions. 5.4 The Licensee should be aware that the frequencies allocated to the CB station are shared with other applications in an uncoordinated manner and therefore not protected from harmful interference caused by other telecommunications installations or radio equipment operating in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance, or regulations or orders made under the Ordinance. 13

14 6. Type-Approval 6.1 The Licensee shall only use CB stations which have been type-approved by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority. 7. Restriction Against use of Station at a Fixed Location 7.1 The use of CB station installed at a fixed location in Hong Kong is strictly prohibited under this Class Licence. The Licensee shall not use the CB station to connect with an indoor or outdoor antenna for use as a CB station at a fixed location. 8. Emergency Communications 8.1 Channel 9 should be used for purposes of emergency communications as far as possible. For the avoidance of doubt, the Licensee may use any Channel for emergency communications purpose. 9. Technical Criteria 9.1 The CB station shall at all times comply with the technical criteria specified in the Schedule. 14

15 SCHEDULE Citizens Band Radio Station Citizens Band radio station or CB station under this Licence refers to a mobile or portable radio station which complies with the technical specification HKTA 1022 or HKTA 1050 issued by the Authority and is type-approved by the Authority pursuant to sections 32D and 32E of the Telecommunications Ordinance and conforms to the technical criteria below: Technical Criteria Frequency band: MHz Frequency channels: Channel Centre Frequency (MHz) Channel Centre Frequency (MHz)

16 Channel width: 10 khz Modulation: Double-sideband amplitude modulation (DSB AM) Frequency modulation (FM) Phase modulation (PM) Single-sideband amplitude modulation (SSB AM) Power limits: Modulations other than single-sideband Single-sideband modulation On Land 4 watts carrier power 12 watts peak envelope power At Sea 10 watts carrier power 12 watts peak envelope power 16

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