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HQ 085661

February 15, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085661 AJS


TARIFF NO: 8471.99.15; 8471.99.60; 8471.92.80; 8473.30.40; 8517.90.40

Mark K. Neville, Jr., Esq.
Lamb and Lerch
601 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

RE: Channel units

Dear Mr. Neville:

Your letter of August 18, 1989, requesting a tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of channel units imported by your client Telco Systems-Network Access Corporation has been referred to this office for reply.


The articles in question are channel units which are inserted, along with a power supply, into a chassis in order to form channel banks. The channel unit's basic function is to convert analog and/or digital data signal inputs into a series of digital signal outputs onto the channel bank line interface unit. In the reverse direction, the channel unit receives the digital signal output from the line interface unit and converts it into the appropriate analog and/or digital channel output signal. In short, the channel unit acts very much like a language translator in that it takes electromagnetic signals and redefines them into a form usable by other parts of a system. Basically, The channel units perform this function by either translating signals, transmitting signals or translating and transmitting signals.

The channel bank itself is a digital Pulse-Code-Modulated (PCM) multiplexer designed to multiplex up to 24 analog and/or
digital data circuits onto a PCM digital signal output. A multiplexer is a system by which several individual information carrying channels are combined for transmission over one bearer (line, fiber or radio), using frequency division for analog signals or time techniques for digital signals. This PCM signal output is received by the far end channel bank and demultiplexed into the original twenty-four digital signals originating from the other end. This arrangement provides for channel to channel connectivity between the local channel unit adapter circuit and the far-end channel unit adapter circuit. The channel bank consists of a line interface unit, power supply unit, chassis and up to 24 channel units.

You state that there are basically two types of channel banks. The so-called "DCB 24" is the basic channel bank which is manually operated by use of dip switches. The "Route 24" channel bank is a so-called intelligent channel bank. It is controlled by software which permits remote programming and changes by means of the software. The Route 24 technology would be linked to either a VT 100 terminal or personal computer to allow for network terminal management. However, your client has received a ruling (NY 835316) on a Muxview channel bank which you claim does not apply to this merchandise.

The channel units in question consist of four models which are all based on the model 2440-00. This model is a device that connects customer provided terminal analog equipment (CPE or customer premises equipment) to transmission and switching equipment. Data analog signals transmitted from the CPE are converted to Pulse-Code-Modulation for multiplexing onto a digital system. Received digital data signals are converted to analog signals for transmission to the CPE. The PCM codec performs the analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion. The 2440-00 provides the 6-wire interface toward the CPE for signaling and data transmission toward the digital data processing center via an interface unit. Basically, this model and the other models at issue translate and transmit electro- magnetic signals

The first model is the 2443-20 which is identical to the 2440-00, except that it provides a 2-wire interface towards the CPE for signaling and data transmission. In a point-to-point network application it interfaces one end of the network.

The second model is the 2443-10 which is identical to the model 2443-20, except that it provides dedicated network signalling features for signaling purposes toward the digital data center.

The third model is the 2443-40 which is almost identical to the 2443-20. However, it is different in that it can be remotely optioned and tested by using a terminal via specific software and an interface unit.

The final model is the 2443-41, which is a cost reduced version of the model 2443-40.


Whether the channel units in question are properly classifiable within heading 8471, HTSUSA, which provides for automatic data processing machines and units thereof; or within heading 8517, HTSUSA, which provides for electrical apparatus for line telephony or telegraphy.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

Heading 8471 provides for automatic data processing (ADP) machines and units thereof. The article in question clearly does not satisfy the description of an ADP machine within the meaning of Chapter 84, Note 5(A). However, ADP machines may be in the form of a system consisting of a variable number of separately housed units. A unit is to be regarded as part of the complete system if:

(a) It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and

(b) It is specifically designed as part of such a system (it must, in particular, unless it is a power supply unit, be able to accept or deliver data in a form (code or signals) which can be used by the system). Chapter 84, Note 5(B).

A channel bank does not satisfy this description of a separate unit of an ADP system. It is not specifically designed as a part of an ADP system. Instead, the channel bank is designed to translate and/or transmit signals between two points. This function could be for a telephone system or a telegraph system. An article which has a function outside the scope of heading 8471 cannot be considered specifically designed as part of an ADP system. Furthermore, the fact that the customer may adapt a channel bank to meet their particular needs does not mean that the article is specifically designed as part of an ADP
system. Instead, the article in question is designed for special configuration by the customer for uses which could involve an ADP system, a voice communication system or a data communication system, or both.

Explanatory Note (EN) 84.71 I(A), states that digital data processing systems "may also include peripheral units . . . de- signed to increase the capacity of the system, for instance, by expanding one or more of the functions of the central unit (see Part (D) below)." Part I(D) states that this heading covers separately presented constituent units of data processing systems. (D)(4) lists as an example of a constituent unit, "[c]ontrol and adapter units such as those to effect inter- connection of the central processing unit to other digital data processing machines, or to groups of input units or output units which may comprise visual display units, remote terminals etc. This category includes channel to channel adapters used to connect two digital systems to each other."

You claim that EN 84.71 (I)(D)(4) has a twofold application. First, it describes the function of the channel bank, of which the imported channel unit will be one of four constituent parts. Second, compatibility for channel to channel linkage is the specific function of the imported channel units themselves. In addition, you claim that channel banks are used to connect two digital systems to each other as shown in the submitted point- to-point diagram. Therefore, you claim that channel banks are specifically provided for as channel to channel adapters by the ENs to heading 84.71. We do not agree with this application of EN 84.71.

Tariff terms are construed in accordance with their common and commercial meaning. Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982). Channel adapters are devices which permit connections between various data channels of differing equipment. C.J. and R.J. Sippl, Computer Dictionary and Handbook (3rd ed. 1980), p. 65. A data channel is a bidirectional data path between the input/ output devices and the main memory in a digital computer that permits one or more input/output operations to take place concurrently with computation. Id. Data channels are synonymous with channels which are described as "[a] physical path along which data may be transferred or transmitted; or a physical path along which data may be stored serially for subsequent recovery. Martin H. Weik, Standard Dictionary of Computers and Information Processing (2nd ed. 1977), at 60. Furthermore, a channel is also described as that portion of the central processing unit (CPU) of
a computer which connects input and output devices to the CPU. Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, (VN) (7th ed. 1988), p. 565.

The channel bank and constituent channel units do not satisfy the above description of channel adapters. They are not related to data channels or channels. Instead, they translate and/or transmit signals via a line interface apparatus. This function is not related to that of the channel adapters as described within EN 8471. Based on the fact that the channel bank and constituent units are not an ADP machine or unit thereof, they are thus excluded from classification within heading 8471.

You state that channel units are used in both telephonic and telegraphic applications. Heading 8517 provides for "[e]lectri- cal apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy." The ENs to heading 85.17 state that this phrase "means apparatus for the transmission between two points of speech or sound (or symbols representing written messages, images or other data), by variation of an electric current or of an optical wave flowing in a metallic or dielectric (copper, optical fibers, combination cable, etc.) circuit connecting the transmission station to the receiving station." Channel banks are used for telephonic and telegraphic purposes and are apparatus for the transmission between two points of electromagnetic signals in the manner described above. Thus, channel banks and their units are classifiable by the terms of heading 8517 as electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy.

There are three basic groupings of equipment used in modern telecommunications: Customer premises equipment or "end point" apparatus,such as telephones and other types of terminals, transmission equipment such as certain multiplexers or repeaters, and switching equipment. VN p. 2773. This equipment is linked together as a network by an assortment of computers and software programs. Telephony itself is defined as "[t]he technology of communicating speech and other information between telephones and other terminals, using analog or digital signals transmitted via electrical or lightwave circuits. The information may be in the form of speech, music, data, facsimile, or video communications." VN p. 2772. Telephony is also defined as "[t]he transmission of speech, data, graphics, or video signals to a distant point by means of electric waves, digital pulses, and increasingly, by light pulses sent through ultrapure, hair thin glass fibers." McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science &
Technology, (McG-H) (6th ed. 1987), vol. 17, p. 172. Telephonic communications consist of three elements: "(1) telephone sets that convert sound energy to electric waves and back again; (2) transmission systems that carry signals over distance without
distortion and attenuation; and (3) switching systems that connect one caller to another." Id. Channel banks involve the use of CPE and transmit and translate signals between points in the manner described by the term "telephony".

Heading 8517 provides for telephonic switching apparatus. Switching equipment involves the use of wires connected from telephones to a central point, called an exchange or central office, where individual connections to other telephones are made by switches. VN p. 2781. Customs has previously stated that switching apparatus permit the connection of two or more terminals. (HQ 554295, 1/15/87). Switching systems act to direct messages toward their ultimate destination or address. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Electronics and Computers (McG-Hill E & C), (2nd ed. 1988), p. 892. In addition, switching apparatus provide one of three functions: signalling, controlling, and switching of electromagnetic signals. Id p. 5. This equipment performs traffic management and measurement, maintenance, routing, trouble shooting, and the like. Id. The channel banks and their constituent units do not satisfy these descriptions of switching apparatus. They perform a translation and transmission function, not a switching function.

The ENs state that heading 8517 covers all electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including the special apparatus used for carrier-current line systems (CCLS). EN 85.17. CCLS, used in both telephony and telegraphy, are "based on the modulation of an optical source or of an electrical frequency by impulses representing speech, messages or other data. The apparatus of this group consists, in the transmitting section, of oscillators, modulators, etc., and in the receiving station, of filters, demodulators, etc. This group includes combined modulators-demodulators (modems)." EN 85.17(III). Channel banks are used in both telephony and telegraphy. They are also based on the modulation of an electromagnetic signal by impulses which can represent speech, messages or other data. Thus, channel banks satisfy the description of CCLS apparatus within this heading.

You state that the channel bank is a Pulse-Code-Modulated multiplexer. Pulse code modulation (PCM) was invented in 1939 and is a method of transmitting continuously varying message waves. McG-Hill E & C, (2nd ed. 1988), p. 729. PCM is the method employed to convert analog signals into digital form for transmission or binary storage. Telecommunications Systems and Service Directory, (3rd ed. 1988), p. 759. PCM systems are widely used in many ways and for many purposes by private and public communications companies. MG-Hill E & C, p. 729. CCLS apparatus involve the modulation of both analog and digital signals for transmission, and are used in both line telephony and line telegraphy.

Multiplexing involves the various techniques used to enable the transmission of multiple messages through a common channel. McGraw-Hill, p. 434. The two techniques used for multiplexing are frequency division and time division. Id. You state that the channel unit's basic function is to convert analog and digital signals into digital signal outputs. In addition, you state that the channel bank is a multiplexer which uses frequency division or time techniques to convert several channels into one for transmission. CCLS multiplexes analog and digital signals for transmission and reception for both telephony and telegraphy.

Section XVI, Note 2(a), states that "[p]arts which are goods included in any of the headings of chapters 84 and 85 . . . are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings." Section XVI, General EN (II), states that parts which are suitable for use solely or principally with particular machines or apparatus are classified in the same heading as those machines or apparatus. Channel units are solely used with channel banks and therefore are classifiable as a part of a channel bank within heading 8517. Parts for the apparatus of heading 8517 are classifiable within subheading 8517.90. The channel units are specifically provided for within subheading 8517.90.40 as other parts of telephonic apparatus.

The articles in question are classifiable as parts of telephonic apparatus and not telegraphic apparatus because they involve the transmission of voice and data signals. As stated previously, "telephony" can involve the transmission of both speech and data signals. While telegraphic apparatus involve the transmission of impulses representing texts or images. EN 85.17(II). The channel units at issue clearly fall within the subheading for parts of telephonic apparatus because they involve the transmission of both voice and data signals.


The channel units in question are classifiable within subheading 8517.90.40, HTSUSA, which provides for other parts of telephonic apparatus dutiable at 8.5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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