The Treehouse Blog

Tag: cell

Isn’t AMPS dead yet?

by on May.10, 2010, under Radio

It was with some great fanfare that AMPS met its death on February 18th, 2008.  But did it really die?  As far as I can tell, all that happened on that date was that the FCC no longer required cellular providers to make AMPS available, and many did eagerly turn it off.  But, unlike the conversion to digital television, there appears to be no requirement at this point for providers to abandon AMPS if it is still making them money.  That being the case, are there any AMPS providers still out there?  Public filings (available here) concerning AMPS status were made prior to the sunset date and reveal that some companies had a lot of AMPS customers still and had no plans to turn the service off.

Why do I care?  Because I loathe 47 CFR 15.121 and would like to see it abolished.  This is the section of FCC regulations that forbids the manufacture of devices that can receive, or be easily modified to receive, cellular frequencies.  This requirement only covers the Part 22 Cellular Service (824-849, 869-894 MHz) and not the all-digital PCS and AWS bands that cell service has expanded into.  With AMPS, conversations were transmitted using FM, and so could be easily decoded by any FM receiver that could tune to the appropriate frequencies.  With the digital services, more sophisticated handling of the signal (and even decryption) would be required, which apparently made it unnecessary to have the same kind of regulation.  As far as I know, this is the only restriction placed on what frequencies can be tuned by a receiver.  On freedom grounds alone, I have a big problem with that.  If AMPS does finally die – and I hope it does – I hope that 47 CFR 15.121 can die with it.

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