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HQ 087984

September 13, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 087984 MBR


TARIFF NO.: 8525.10.80, 8525.20.60

Steven W. Baker, Esq.
Bellsey and Baker
100 California Street, Suite 670
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Reconsideration of Headquarters Ruling Letter 085404, dated July 20, 1990; Mobile Radio Data terminals; communications systems; transmission apparatus for radiotelegraphy; automatic data processing machines and units thereof; input/output units; unfinished or incomplete goods; Section XVI, Note 3; Chapter 84, Note 5; Chapter 84, Note 7; Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a); separately housed unit; Explanatory Note 84.71; Explanatory Note 85.25; principal function; principal purpose

Dear Mr. Baker:

This is in response to your September 21, 1990, request for the reconsideration of Headquarters Ruling Letter 085404 ("HQ 085404"), dated July 20, 1990. This ruling concerned the classification of certain Mobile Radio Data Terminals imported by Mobile Data International, Inc. ("MDI"). Since the issuance of HQ 085404 MDI has been acquired by Motorola Canada Ltd. and is operated as a division thereof. MDI Systems, Inc., a United States company and wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola, Inc. in the United States will likely be absorbed and operated by its parent in the United States. The completed and contemplated acquisitions among these companies require that this ruling be effective with regard to Mobile Data International, MDI Systems, Motorola of Canada, Ltd., and Motorola, Inc.


The articles in question are described as Mobile Radio Data Terminals ("MDTS"). The MDTs are part of various communications systems. This equipment enables field personnel to transmit and receive information from their remote position to a headquarters or base office by the use of a radio link. The MDTs are used by an organization's field personnel, and are of both the mobile (mounted in the vehicle) and portable (carried with the person) varieties. The units have a number of different applications
including public safety agencies such as the police, fire and ambulance departments; courier pick-up and delivery; electrical and gas utilities; taxis; and companies with field sales and repair staff.

Incoming messages initiated by the field personnel on the MDTs are received by the modulator of the mobile radio for transmission over the radio link. A simple modification of the radio equipment allows the MDT to bypass the bandwidth-limiting audio circuitry, thus requiring that the data signal be injected directly into the modulator. The signal is received at a base radio site. The digital message is reconstructed by a radio/data interface. This interface may be at the computer site or at a remote location from the host computer. The signal is transmitted to the communications controller over a telephone or microwave link via a data modem. The Communications Controller decodes and translates the data into standard computer-input format and then passes the message to the host computer. The host computer is not sold or imported with the MDTs. The host computer is then able to display the field message on output terminals at the base or headquarters office for personnel to view. Should the base or headquarters personnel wish to send messages to the field personnel, they simply input the message into their terminals and the process works in reverse. The field personnel may also have the ability to access the host computer directly from the MDT for specific data if the system with which the MDT operates is programmed for such access.

Your literature states that the digital communication provided by this system offers a number of advantages over voice radio communications. Radio channels are becoming increasingly scarce and the use of MDTs allows five to ten times as many users on the same channels. The MDT digital communications allows messages to be exchanged faster, with greater accuracy and with greater privacy since a decoder is necessary to understand the message. The MDTs allow direct access to data bases by personnel in the field without assistance of a dispatcher. The MDTs also allow the field personnel to update files within a data base from the field without going through a dispatcher. Preformatted messages may be developed for the most frequently used messages so that a single keystroke and fill-in-the blank forms guide the user through any data entry function. This type of data entry reduces paperwork by eliminating the need for written reports.

The MDTs at issue include the following models: 6031, 6100, 7031, 7100, 9031, 9035, 9036, 9100 and the KDT series (800, 840, 880, 480C). HQ 085404 addressed the 6100, the 7031, the 9031 and the 9100. This ruling addresses all these models of MDTs as they have all been discussed with this office and may continue to be imported. The descriptions of these models are
taken from your January 31, 1991, submission and prior submissions for HQ 085404. All of the MDTs are rugged units designed to be water resistant and dust-proof.

The 6031, 7031 and the 9031 units were the original, pre- Motorola, MDI data terminals. All three units utilize 4.0 MHz Z80 microprocessors and small amounts of RAM and ROM memory.

The 6031: The 6031 is a portable unit with an integral RF transceiver. No other information was submitted regarding this model.

The 7031: The 7031 is a small vehicle mounted unit used primarily in taxi services. The unit is 2.6 x 11.4 x 5.5 inches in size and weighs 2.75 pounds. The 7031 has a Liquid Crystal Display ("LCD") screen capable of displaying two lines of text with 40 characters per line. The 7031 has a 64 character ASCII upper case character set. The keyboard has eight single-stroke keys, six defined key sequences (F plus another key), 0-9 numeral keys, a "TX" key which initiates transmissions, a "Nm" key which displays the next message, a "MDI" key which is an emergency or automatic transmit key, and a "F" key which initiates a multikey sequence. The 7031 has a modem data rate of 4800 bits per second ("bps") with a FM modulation baseband. It contains 16k bytes of Random Access Memory ("RAM") and 48K bytes of Programmable Read Only Memory ("PROM"). The 7031 does not have an integral transceiver, but the radio modem chip used with the 7031 interfaces directly with an associated mobile radio. This model can be configured for both standard communications and specific message formats. However, because of its small size its use is essentially limited to pre-defined procedures.

The 9031: The 9031 is a single-piece vehicle mounted unit designed for public safety agencies, public utilities, and courier services. The unit is 9.9 x 10.6 x 7.6 inches in size and weighs 7.7 pounds. It has a five inch amber Cathode Ray Tube ("CRT") display for sixteen lines and 32 characters per line. The display screen has five areas: message display, operations indicator area, status identifier area, prompt field, and memory indicator area. Standard characters sets in the 9031 include the 64 normal upper case ASCII characters plus an additional 64 character graphics set. The keyboard is a standard typewriter ("QWERTY") keyboard with a function key cluster. The 9031 features a 40K bytes RAM and 20K bytes of RAM, and has a memory capacity of 100 message lines of 32 characters per line, with an additional 64 lines of downloadable local forms storage. The unit has an integral 4800 bps modem and a universal RS-232C serial interface that can support a printer. However, the 9031 does not have an integral transceiver. The 9031 transmits and receives on a FM baseband via a MDI radio, an 800 MHz frequency synthesized radio. The radio is generally mounted in the
vehicle's trunk. The 9031 can be configured for both use in different types of systems and for individual uses within a single system. Configuration possibilities include user- specified messages such as electronic mail, a maximum of sixteen fill-in forms, and programs to establish operational and message priorities. A 9031 user has direct access to a central computer for both input and output. The 9031 can relay both voice and data messages depending on the type of radio used with the unit. The 9031 was modified into the 9035 and the 9036.

The first round of upgrades produced the 6100, the 7100-10 and the 9100-10. These units are similar to the prior models. They incorporate 4.0 MHz Z80 microprocessors, but their internal memory and off-line processing and data entry functions have been upgraded.

The 6100: The 6100 is a small, compact portable terminal. It is 9.75" x 2.5" x 2.25" in size and weighs 3.5 pounds. The 6100 has a 5 x 2.6 inch LCD screen capable of displaying eight lines with 40 characters per line. The screen of the 6100 is hinged to the keyboard so that the two components fold together. The adjustment angle of the display ranges from zero degrees when closed to 135 degrees when fully open. The unit's keyboard has 60 keys including 40 alpha-numeric keys, 11 keys for editing and local terminal operations, and six keys whose functions change under software control (soft keys). The 6100 uses the standard ASCII character set and a set of special graphic characters. The single logic board of the 6100 contains two communications chips, and two microprocessors, one for communications and input/output functions, and the other for applications configuration and message management. Program memory for the unit resides in EPROM, while the communications related variables are stored in Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory ("EEPROM"). Message data and application configuration data are stored in RAM. The 6100 has a message capacity of up to 40 characters x 50 lines, or up to 20000 characters. The unit also contains a serial port for connection to peripheral devices. The unit transmits data at 4800 bps on a FM baseband. The 6100 has a built-in MHz radio transmitter and receiver with an internal antenna. It transmits at a frequency of 806 MHz to 821 MHz and receives at a frequency of 851 MHz to 866 MHz.

The 7100-10: The 7100-10 is a small mobile terminal specifically designed for dispatching services. The unit is 23.4 x 16.3 x 3.5 cm in size and weighs 1kg. The 7100-10 has a LCD screen that displays four lines of text with 40 characters per line. The keyboard of the 7100-10 is a numeric keyboard with a number of special function keys. The unit has a 64 ASCII character set. The 7100-10 can support six messages of up to 10 lines of 32 character per line in its local message storage area for recall, up to 16 predefined messages, and up to 16 fill-in-
the-blank forms. The 7100-10 functions with an MDI 8300 radio to transmit over FM radio channels at a rate of 4800 bps. The unit has 64K bytes of EPROM, 24K bytes of RAM, and 1K of E2 PROM. The unit has a serial RS-232C connection at the unit's base that can support external devices such as a printer or a bar-code reader. The 7100-10 comes in two forms: the 7100-10 with a small, full keyboard, and the 7100D with a limited keyboard.

The 9100-10: The 9100-10 is similar to the prior models. It is a single-piece mobile terminal with a QWERTY keyboard, a function key cluster and a five inch amber CRT screen which displays 10 lines of 32 characters per line. The 9100-10 has a memory capacity of 100 message lines of 32 characters per line, along with 3K bytes of downloadable local forms storage. The unit incorporates 4.0 MHz Z80 microprocessors. The unit has a message transmission rate of 4800 bps, and transmits on a FM baseband with a frequency range of 806 to 825 MHz. Messages are received on a frequency range of 851 to 870 MHz. Messages may be retransmitted automatically up to four times if necessary.

The second round of upgrades occurred after Mobile Data International was acquired by Motorola. The 6000 series models were replaced by the existing Motorola KDT series, the 800, 840, 880 and the 480C. These KDT units use Motorola processors, the 68HC11 eight-bit processor.

KDT 800, 840 and 880: The 800, 840 and 880 KDTs are portable models of 7.8 x 4.0 x 1.43 inches in size and a weight of approximately 30 oz. The 800, 840 and 880 models have a 7 x 4.8 inches LCD screens. The 800 model displays two lines of 27 characters per line. The 840 and 880 models display four lines of 40 characters per line. The units have QWERTY keyboards with editing keys and function key clusters. The models have two on- board processors, one used for data processing functions and the other for communications. The 800 model has 32K bytes of ROM and 24K bytes of RAM. The 840 and 880 have 128K bytes of ROM and 32K bytes of RAM. The KDTs have an integral RF transceiver. All three models operate on a FM baseband at a rate of 4800 bps, with a transmitter frequency range of 806-821 MHz, and a receiver frequency range of 851-866 MHz. The units have interface ports capable of supporting peripheral devices.

KDT 480C: The 480C is a mobile component system with a detachable keyboard, a CRT display mounted in the passenger compartment of the vehicle, and a housing containing the processor, memory and radio modem, which will ordinarily be trunk mounted in the vehicle. The system can accommodate voice as well as data communication. The display unit is 5 x 10.7 x 9 inches in size with a CRT viewing area of 8 x 3 inches. The 480C displays 14 lines of characters per line. The display unit is
mounted in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The keyboard is 10.7 x 1.5 x 6.3 inches in size and is connected to the display unit in the passenger compartment. The keyboard has 12 programmable function keys, 41 alpha-numeric and punctuation keys, 8 editing keys, and 6 terminal operations keys. The unit supports the full 96 character ASCII set, plus a 32 graphic display character set. The logic unit containing the processor, memory and radio modem is 11.5 x 7.2 x 2.7 inches in size and connects to the keyboard and display by cables. The 480C has 32K bytes of ROM and 24K bytes of RAM. The unit has interface ports capable of supporting peripheral devices.

Further upgrades have occurred on the 7100 and the 9100. These series were upgraded to include the 7100-11 and the 9100- 11. The upgraded models have essentially the same microprocessors and operating systems. The units have similar capabilities, differing only in screen and memory sizes. The 7100-11 has a smaller memory capacity than the 9100-11 and a smaller screen. However, the 7100-11 allows for "windowing" around the full size screen. The current top of the line model is the 9100-20 mobile unit which incorporates a 16 bit processor, the Motorola 68000 microprocessor.

Motorola expects volume importation of the 7100, the 9100 and the KDT series units. Although some of the listed models are no longer currently marketed, they continue to be sold to the companies for which they were designed. The units currently being imported are produced in Singapore. The procedure for importation is to import the units complete with microprocessors and with all electronic components on board except for the applications programming in the form of RAM and EPROM plug-ins. In their condition as imported the units are also without the RF transceiver for the portable units. Once in the United States the EPROM and RAM is programmed, incorporated into the unit and the unit is then tested and parameter set for the particular end user application. You state that at the time of entry the units are substantially complete to be classified as the finished units.

HQ 085404 classified the 6100, the 7031, the 9031 and the 9100 under heading 8525, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated ("HTSUSA"), as "Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus..." The 6100 was classified in subheading 8525.20.60, HTSUSA, as "...Transmission apparatus incorporating reception apparatus... Other...Other..." The 7031, 7100-10, and the 9100 were classified in subheading 8525.10.80, HTSUSA, as "...Transmission apparatus...Other...Other..."

You believe that the all of the units are input/output units of data processing systems, and that the units are properly classified under subheading 8471.92.10, HTSUSA, as "Automatic data processing machines and units thereof...Other...Input or output units, whether or not entered with the rest of the system and whether or not containing storage units in the same housing...Combined input/output units..." Alternatively, you believe that the units are classified in subheading 8471.20.00, HTSUSA, as "...Digital automatic data processing machines containing in the same housing at least a central processing unit and an input and output unit, whether or not combined..." You also suggest subheading 8471.91.00, HTSUSA, which describes "...Other..digital processing units, whether or not entered with the rest of a system, which may contain in the same housing one or two of the following types of units: storage units, input units, output units..."


Whether the mobile data terminals imported by Motorola are automatic data processing machines and units thereof under heading 8471, HTSUSA, or transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus under heading 8525, HTSUSA.


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation ("GRIs"). GRI 1, HTSUSA, states in part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and... according to the following provisions." GRI 2, HTSUSA, one of "the following provisions" requires that references in a heading to an article include references to that article in an incomplete, unfinished, unassembled, or disassembled state, as long as the incomplete, unfinished, unassembled, or disassembled article has the essential character of the finished article. We accept your assertion that these articles have the essential character of the finished articles. Although the MDTs are entered in an incomplete state, they are classified as though they were complete.

The headings in contention are heading 8471 and 8725, HTSUSA. These headings describe the following:

8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof...

8525 Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus...

GRI 1 indicates that along with the terms of the headings, any applicable section or chapter notes must be utilized. Both headings are found within Section XVI of the tariff. Furthermore, heading 8471 is within Chapter 84, HTSUSA, and heading 8525 is within Chapter 85, HTSUSA. Thus the Section XVI, Chapter 84, and Chapter 85 notes must be examined. The relevant notes include Section XVI, Note 3, HTSUSA and Chapter 84, Note 5, HTSUSA.

Chapter 84, Note 5 provides the meaning of the term "automatic data processing machines" as used within the tariff. This definition is expressed in terms of the abilities an automatic data processing machine must possess. Chapter 84, Note 5(A) states the abilities that a digital machine must be capable of performing. The note does not state that the machine must perform the functions, only that the machine be capable of performing the functions. Theses functions are (1) storing the processing program and the data necessary for the execution of the program; (2) being freely programmable in accordance with the requirements of the user; (3) performing arithmetical computations specified by the user; and (4) executing the processing program without human intervention. Chapter 84, Note 5(B) states that automatic data processing machines may be in the form of a system which consists of a variable number of separately housed units. A unit is to be regarded as part of the system if it meets two requirements: (1) the unit is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and (2) the unit is specifically designed as part of such a system, and is capable of accepting or delivering data in a form which can be used by the system. (emphasis added)

These definitions of a machine and a separately housed unit are supported by the Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be looked to for the proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). Guidance to heading 8471 is found in Explanatory Note 84.71, Vol. 3, HCDCS, p. 1297. Explanatory Note 84.71 supplements the Chapter 84 note by stating that in a digital data processing machine the input and output units may be combined in a single unit and the unit may be at a remote location. See Explanatory Note 84.71(B)(3), Vol. 3, HCDCS, p. 1298.

The subject MDTs work with a main computer at a remote location to perform their functions. The MDI communications systems consist of separately housed units which are able to
function together from various locations. Such a system of separately housed units is a machine within the meaning of Chapter 84, Note 5(A), providing the system as a whole -- the machine -- is capable of performing the four listed functions. The MDI digital systems currently perform or are capable of (1) storing the processing program and the data essential for executing the program, (2) being programmable in accordance with the requirements of the organization utilizing the systems, (3) arithmetical computations, and (4) the execution of the program without human intervention. Thus, the MDI mobile data/communications systems are digital automatic data processing machines within the meaning of Chapter 84, Note 5(A).

The MDTs are separately housed components which operate with the MDI systems. The MDTs are connectable to the main computer through the radio link, the modem and the communications controller. Thus, the MDTs are connectable to the central processing unit through other units. The MDTs are a specifically designed part of the MDI systems. The MDTs are designed to accept and deliver data. They perform as a combination input and output unit. Since the MDTs meet the two conditions of Chapter 84, Note 5(B), the MDTs are separately housed units of a digital data processing machine. Chapter 84, Note 5 states that "[s]uch units entered separately are also to be classified in heading 8471. Thus, the terms of heading 8471 describe the MDTs.

The proper interpretation of heading 8525 is found in Explanatory Note 85.25, Vol. 4, HCDCS, p. 1374. Explanatory Note 85.25(A) states that radio-telegraphy apparatus are "used for the transmission of signals (representing speech, messages or still pictures) by means of electro-magnetic waves which are transmitted through the ether without any line connection." Vol. 4, HCDCS, p. 1374. The MDTs use electro-magnetic waves to transmit signals which represent messages between personnel at a base site and field personnel. This message transmission occurs without the use of a line connection. Thus, the MDTs are also described by heading 8525.

Section XVI, Note 3 states in pertinent part:

Unless the context otherwise requires, composite machines consisting of...machines adapted for the purpose of performing two or more complementary or alternative functions are to be classified as if consisting only of that component or as being that machine which performs the principal function.

The subject MDTs consist of two types of machines. The first type consists of machines incorporating a terminal apparatus and a transmission/reception apparatus within a common housing. These machines perform complementary or alternative
functions. Therefore, these MDTs are composite machines within the meaning of Section XVI, Note 3. The second type consists of machines that are terminals which, although not incorporating a transmission/reception apparatus, are designed to be connected to a transmission/reception device. These machines, however, can perform two different functions, data transmission and data processing. Therefore, these MDTs are multi-function machines within the meaning of Section XVI, Note 3. Both types of MDTs, therefore, are classified according to their principal function. This principal function is the controlling function or purpose within the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation. See Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUSA.

It is the opinion of this office that the principal function of the MDTs is its communications ability via radio-telegraphy. This conclusion is based on more than simply the presence of the radio modem within some of the MDI/Motorola units. MDI/Motorola has not marketed a "data processing system." The literature establishes that MDI is advertising and selling "communications systems." Throughout their advertising literature and videos the communications functions of the MDI systems are continually emphasized. The literature states that organizations are purchasing systems to replace their voice communications systems. "Efficient communications," "optimum dispatch operations," "communicate with our field service people more efficiently and quickly without having to use voice communications" are comments stated and repeated in testimonials in Databurst, MDI's advertising newsletter. Vol. 5, No. 4 (Fall 1990). The principal function of the MDTs in the United States at this time is the ability for base and field personnel to communicate and relay messages that formerly had to be performed by voice communications. Although the ability to access data exists, it is an additional bonus of the systems.

Although your arguments regarding the data processing functions of the MDT have some merit, this office is not convinced that data processing is the principal function or purpose. The data processing capabilities of the MDTs are severely limited. The users of the MDTs are able to retrieve and send data but they are not able to substantially manipulate data, nor will they spend the greatest use of their time with the MDT attempting to manipulate data on the MDT. The majority of functions of the MDTs are quickly performed by functions keys or a multikey combination to acknowledge receipt of and respond to a message from the base or headquarters site.

The primary use of the MDT systems and the aspect which impresses system purchasers is its speed, efficiency and reliability in sending messages. The principal use of the system is as follows: (1) a calltaker or dispatcher will input a message to the system, (2) the message will be directed to field
personnel by a computer program, as you indicate, or in many instances by an individual at a base site, (3) the field personnel acknowledge receipt of the message, perform the necessary task, and/or respond accordingly. This "system" is a communications system. The system's speed and efficiency is made possible by a host computer. However, that the system utilizes a computer for its operations does not make it a data processing system, nor does it make the transmission of messages within the system data processing.

The MDTs principal function is the transmission of messages via radio-telegraphy. The classification of the MDT units with integral transceivers is subheading 8525.20.60, HTSUSA, as "Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus...Transmission apparatus incorporating reception apparatus...Other...Other..." The MDT units without an integral transceiver are classified in subheading 8525.10.80, HTSUSA, as "Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus... Transmission apparatus...Other...Other..."


The Mobile Data International MDTs are described by both heading 8471 as units of automatic data processing machines and by heading 8525 as transmission apparatus for radiotelegraphy. Within the meaning of Section XVI, Note 3, the MDTs with integral transceivers are composite machines, and the MDTs without integral transceivers are multifunction machines. However, the MDTs' principal function under Section XVI, Note 3, is the transmission of messages via radiotelegraphy. In accordance with GRI 1, the MDTs are classified under heading 8525.

The appropriate classification for models 6031, 6100, KDT 800, KDT 840, and KDT 880 is subheading 8525.20.60, HTSUSA, as "Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus...Transmission apparatus incorporating reception apparatus...Other...Other..."

The appropriate classification for the models 7031, 7100-10, 7100-11, 9031, 9100-10, 9100-11, 9100-20 and KDT 480C is subheading 8525.10.80, HTSUSA, as "Transmission apparatus for
radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus... Transmission apparatus...Other...Other..."


HQ 085404, dated July 20, 1990, is hereby affirmed in full.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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