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On this page we will endeavor to keep you up to date on what's happening in FCC that will have an impact on the RF / Spread Spectrum / Wireless world. We have an automatic news feed that provides daily articles on FCC doings, and we also screen the FCC website for news squibs on items of continuing interest.

Contents of This Page

Today's FCC Headlines
Most Pressing Wireless Issues (9/18/08)
Part 2 Modified Further (9/23/05)
R&O Issued Modifying Parts 2 & 15 (7/28/04)
Proposed FCC Modifications to Parts 2 & 15 (1/28/04)
Proposed Rulemaking on RF Safety (6/6/03)
FCC Approves Limited Use of UWB (2/14/02)
FCC Allocates Additional Spectrum for Wireless (1/3/02)
FCC Delays Action on UWB (12/28/01)

Also see our Archived FCC News

Today's FCC Headlines

FCC in the News

For more news, see —

FCC's Headline Page

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A View on Today's Most Pressing Wireless Issues (September 18, 2008)

FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein Commissioner spoke in September at the Fifth Annual Conference on Spectrum Management in Arlington, VA. His speech is full of information on what the FCC is planning for the future. A full text of the speech as prepared for this conference is available directly from the FCC site here.

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Part 2 Modified Further (September 23, 2005)

Today the FCC adopted its EIGHTH REPORT AND ORDER, FIFTH NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING AND ORDER on ET Docket No. 00-258. This document is subtitled, "Amendment to Part 2 of the Commission's Rules to Allocate Spectrum Below 3 GHz for Mobile and Fixed Services to Support the Introduction of New Advanced Wireless Services, including Third Generation Wireless Systems." Full text of the R&O is available here on SSS Online, or directly from the FCC site here.

In the Eighth Report and Order, FCC reallocates the 2155-2160 MHz band for Fixed and Mobile services and designates the 2155-2175 MHz band for AWS use. Concurrently, in the Fifth Notice of Proposed Rule Making, FCC seeks comment on the specific relocation procedures applicable to Broadband Radio Service (BRS) operations in the 2150-2160/62 MHz band, which the Commission recently decided will be relocated to the newly restructured 2495-2690 MHz band. In addition, comments are sought on the specific relocation procedures applicable to Fixed Microwave Service (FS) operations in the 2160-2175 MHz band. Finally, FCC intends to require BRS licensees in the 2150-2160/62 MHz band to provide information on the construction status and operational parameters of each incumbent BRS system that would be the subject of relocation.

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FCC Report and Order Modifies Parts 2 and 15 (July 28, 2004)

The FCC issued a Report and Order (R&O) on July 12, 2004, modifying Parts 2 and 15 of the rules governing unlicensed devices and equipment approval. See our analysis of the changes, and find links to all the background material, in the Summer 2004 issue of SSS Online!

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Proposed FCC Modifications to Parts 2 and 15 (January 28, 2004)

The FCC has proposed modifications to Parts 2 and 15 of the rules for unlicensed devices and equipment approval. Comments were due by January 23, 2004, and reply comments by February 7, 2004. These changes would:
  • Permit the use of smart antennas with 2.4 GHz spread spectrum devices;
  • Modify the replacement antenna restriction for Part 15 unlicensed devices;
  • Modify the equipment authorization procedures to provide more flexibility to configure transmission systems without the need to obtain separate authorization for every combination of system components;
  • Harmonize the measurement procedures for digital modulation systems authorized pursuant to Section 15.247 of the rules with those for similar U-NII devices authorized under Sections 15.401 - 15.407;
  • Modify the channel spacing requirements for frequency hopping spread spectrum devices in the 2.4 GHz band in order to remove barriers to the introduction of new technology that uses wider bandwidths; and
  • Clarify the equipment authorization requirements for modular transmitters.
You can see the text of the rulemaking in pdf format here on our site, or here on the FCC site. To see the comments and reply comments, you can go to the FCC's Electronic Comments Filing System and enter "03-201" in box 1, "Proceeding". Then press the "Retrieve Document List" button at the bottom of the screen. This will bring up a list of documents that have been filed, and .txt files of all comments and FCC documents on this topic.

For more info, see our article in the Winter 2003 issue of SSS Online. Also, you can check out our comments on this proposed rulemaking here.

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RF Safety Proposed Rulemaking, June 6, 2003

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking dated June 6, 2003, proposing amendments to FCC rules governing Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields, 47 CFR parts 1, 2, and 95. Comments were due December 8, 2003, and reply comments were due by January 6, 2004. Editor's note: As of 9/30/05, no action has been taken on this proposed NOPR, but there is still activity going on with various notices from involved companies. To see the comments and supplemental information, go to the FCC's Electronic Comments Filing System, and enter "03-137" in the first space, 'Proceeding,' then press "Retrieve Document List" at the bottom of the form. This will give you a list of all the documents filed in this proceeding, and links to view them.

For more information on this topic, see our RF Safety page.

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FCC Approves Limited Use of Ultra Wideband

On February 14, 2002, the United States FCC commissioners unanimously approved limited uses of UWB, and have promised to review the standards in the next 6-12 months to explore the potential for granting greater flexibility and to address the operation of additional types of UWB operations and technology.

See the attachment to FCC News Release (UWB emissions spectral templates): For more information on UWB, see our UWB News Page and our UWB Resources Page.

The FCC press release on UWB is below:

FEBRUARY 14, 2002

February 14, 2002 David Fiske at (202) 418-0513


Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) adopted today a First Report and Order that permits the marketing and operation of certain types of new products incorporating ultra-wideband ("UWB") technology. UWB technology holds great promise for a vast array of new applications that have the potential to provide significant benefits for public safety, businesses and consumers in a variety of applications such as radar imaging of objects buried under the ground or behind walls and short-range, high-speed data transmissions.

UWB devices operate by employing very narrow or short duration pulses that result in very large or wideband transmission bandwidths. With appropriate technical standards, UWB devices can operate using spectrum occupied by existing radio services without causing interference, thereby permitting scarce spectrum resources to be used more efficiently. This First Report and Order ("Order") includes standards designed to ensure that existing and planned radio services, particularly safety services, are adequately protected. The FCC will act vigorously to enforce the rules and act quickly on any reports of interference.

The standards adopted today represent a cautious first step with UWB technology. These standards are based in large measure on standards that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") believes are necessary to protect against interference to vital federal government operations. Since there is no production UWB equipment available and there is little operational experience with the impact of UWB on other radio services, the Commission chose in this First Report and Order to err on the side of conservatism in setting emission limits when there were unresolved interference issues. The Commission intends within the next six to twelve months to review the standards for UWB devices and issue a further notice of proposed rule making to explore more flexible standards and address the operation of additional types of UWB operations and technology.

The Order establishes different technical standards and operating restrictions for three types of UWB devices based on their potential to cause interference. These three types of UWB devices are: 1) imaging systems including Ground Penetrating Radars (GPRs), wall, through-wall, medical imaging, and surveillance devices, 2) vehicular radar systems, and 3) communications and measurement systems.

  • Imaging Systems: Provides for the operation of GPRs and other imaging devices under Part 15 of the Commission's rules subject to certain frequency and power limitations. The operators of imaging devices must be eligible for licensing under Part 90 of our rules, except that medical imaging devices may be operated by a licensed health care practitioner. At the request of NTIA, the FCC will notify or coordinate with NTIA prior to the operation of all imaging systems. Imaging systems include:

Ground Penetrating Radar Systems: GPRs must be operated below 960 MHz or in the frequency band 3.1-10.6 GHz. GPRs operate only when in contact with or within close proximity of, the ground for the purpose of detecting or obtaining the images of buried objects. The energy from the GPR is intentionally directed down into the ground for this purpose. Operation is restricted to law enforcement, fire and rescue organizations, to scientific research institutions, to commercial mining companies, and to construction companies.

Wall Imaging Systems: Wall-imaging systems must be operated below 960 MHz or in the frequency band 3.1-10.6 GHz. Wall-imaging systems are designed to detect the location of objects contained within a "wall," such as a concrete structure, the side of a bridge, or the wall of a mine. Operation is restricted to law enforcement, fire and rescue organizations, to scientific research institutions, to commercial mining companies, and to construction companies.

Through-wall Imaging Systems: These systems must be operated below 960 MHz or in the frequency band 1.99-10.6 GHz. Through-wall imaging systems detect the location or movement of persons or objects that are located on the other side of a structure such as a wall. Operation is limited to law enforcement, fire and rescue organizations.

Medical Systems: These devices must be operated in the frequency band 3.1-10.6 GHz. A medical imaging system may be used for a variety of health applications to "see" inside the body of a person or animal. Operation must be at the direction of, or under the supervision of, a licensed health care practitioner.

Surveillance Systems: Although technically these devices are not imaging systems, for regulatory purposes they will be treated in the same way as through-wall imaging and will be permitted to operate in the frequency band 1.99-10.6 GHz. Surveillance systems operate as "security fences" by establishing a stationary RF perimeter field and detecting the intrusion of persons or objects in that field. Operation is limited to law enforcement, fire and rescue organizations, to public utilities and to industrial entities.

  • Vehicular Radar Systems: Provides for the operation of vehicular radar systems in the 24 GHz band using directional antennas on terrestrial transportation vehicles provided the center frequency of the emission and the frequency at which the highest radiated emission occurs are greater than 24.075 GHz. These devices are able to detect the location and movement of objects near a vehicle, enabling features such as near collision avoidance, improved airbag activation, and suspension systems that better respond to road conditions.
  • Communications and Measurement Systems: Provides for use of a wide variety of other UWB devices, such as high-speed home and business networking devices as well as storage tank measurement devices under Part 15 of the Commission's rules subject to certain frequency and power limitations. The devices must operate in the frequency band 3.1-10.6 GHz. The equipment must be designed to ensure that operation can only occur indoors or it must consist of hand-held devices that may be employed for such activities as peer-to-peer operation.

Action by the Commission February 14, 2002, by First Report and Order (FCC 02-48). Chairman Powell, Commissioners Abernathy, Copps and Martin, with Commissioners Abernathy, Copps and Martin issuing separate statements.

Staff Contacts for First Report and Order:
Julius Knapp, Telephone: (202) 418-2468, E-mail: or
John Reed, Telephone: (202) 418-2455, E-mail:
ET Docket No. 98-153


RE: Revision of Part 15 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Ultra-Wideband Transmission Systems (ET Docket No. 98-153)

I believe that ultra-wideband ("UWB") technologies are destined to play a significant role across America's communications landscape. UWB devices will save firefighters' and policemen's lives, prevent automobile accidents, assist search-and-rescue crews in seeing through the rubble of disaster sites, enable broadband connections between our home electronics, and allow exciting new forms of communications in the years ahead. Indeed, the U.S. Government already uses UWB extensively to make our soldiers, airport runways, and highway bridges safer, and so much more is on the horizon.

But opinion differs greatly on the interference effect of the widespread use of UWB technologies by the public. If interference does occur, it could conceivably affect critical government and non-government spectrum users. Our national defense and several safety-of-life systems depend on bands that have the potential to be impacted by UWB devices.

Because the effects of widespread use of UWB are not yet fully known, and interference could impact critical spectrum users, I will support, albeit somewhat reluctantly, the ultra-conservative ultra-wideband step we take today. The limits we place on UWB are designed to reduce the interference risks associated with the technology to levels far, far below those placed on technologies that place energy into narrower portions of the spectrum. These limits are intentionally at the extreme end of what FCC engineers – the best spectrum engineers in the country – believe necessary. They were agreed to because of the unique and novel impact of this technology, and should not be taken as precedent for any other interference dispute – involving other Part 15 devices, government bands, or other new technologies.

I strongly support the Commission's decision to initiate a further NPRM within 6 to 12 months. My hope is that we can phase in this exciting new technology with some sense of urgency, proceeding through the conduct of expeditious step-by-step authorizations from the Commission for applications that are waiting in line. We owe it to our citizens and our businesses to determine, just as quickly as we prudently can, whether we can loosen the ultra-conservative restrictions we put in place today. So I urge all parties, especially our government colleagues, to start collecting data immediately so we can have as much data as possible, including information about their own use of UWB and how UWB effects their other uses of the spectrum, in a timely manner.

Delay, even when advisable, still has costs. If we find that our rules are too restrictive and we fail to correct them promptly, the price may be that the United States loses its leadership role in ultra-wideband. The technology could easily move overseas, where, I wager, would-be competitors are only too eager to get a step ahead of the USA. Let's be cognizant, too, of the need to proceed so as to inflict minimal harm on U.S. commercial interests. Some companies may be seriously inhibited by the limitations being announced. We should not expect that they can afford to stand patiently by while testing and approval proceeds at glacial pace. I hope that all of us, whether in government or the private sector, will approach our nation's deployment of ultra-wideband with the sense of urgency that it so clearly merits.

Finally, I want to welcome Ed Thomas to the FCC. He started with ultra-wideband – a trial by fire! I look forward to working with you. I also want to thank Julie Knapp and the whole OET team for their dedication and hard work on this item. Lots of weekends and late nights went into this Order. Thank you.


RE: Revision of Part 15 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Ultra-Wideband Transmission Systems, First Report and Order (ET Docket No. 98-153-).

Spectrum management decisions are always complex and challenging. In an environment where the amount of unencumbered spectrum is decreasing while demand continues to grow, it is even more critical we make interference and sharing decisions that do not waste this precious natural resource. Inevitably, we will depend more and more on sharing the spectrum currently available to avoid such waste. Sharing decisions are made particularly difficult in the context of the "fiefdom" mentality that seems to characterize players who fervently guard their spectrum "turf," regardless of whether additional use can be accommodated. Unfortunately, the result is often unrealized potential that can never be recaptured.

I am excited that ultrawideband technology, which operates at powers 10,000 times lower than PCS handsets, will allow us to take sharing to new levels, and help avoid such waste. These sophisticated applications can potentially co-exist with spectrum users in any frequency, while promising a host of exciting military, public safety, medical and consumer uses. Firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel can make use of this technology to detect and image objects that are behind walls, buried underground or even inside the human body. Automotive applications such as collision avoidance and improved airbag mechanisms will have a direct consumer safety impact. Consumers also stand to benefit from enhanced laptops, phones, video recorders, and personal digital assistants that can wirelessly send and receive streams of digital video, audio and data.

Most importantly, ultrawideband challenges the notion that use of particular frequencies or bands is necessarily mutually exclusive. In defiance of our traditional allocation paradigm that often forces us to pick "winners and losers" in the face of competing demands, this technology seems to allow more winners all around.

I am disappointed that we did not, at this time, adopt more flexible limits that may have allowed for even more widespread use of this technology. I look forward to re-examining the technical parameters established in this order once we have more data that will address the interference concerns expressed by NTIA.

I am optimistic that future technological developments will provide the Commission with more such opportunities to insist on increasingly efficient use of current spectrum. Ultimately, the amount of available spectrum and our ability to use it is perhaps limited only by technology. Today, however, we must act rationally to make the best choices within the spectrum constraints that face us now.


(not yet available)



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FCC Allocates Additional Spectrum for Wireless

On December 28, 2001, the FCC reallocated 27 megahertz of spectrum for new flexible services. The Order reallocates a number of small spectrum blocks which were previously reserved for Federal Government use in the 216-220 MHz, 1390-1395 MHz, 1427- 1429 MHz, 1429-1432 MHz, 1432-1435 MHz, 1670-1675 MHz, and 2385-2390 MHz bands. This FCC action follows its announcement on Dec. 12 that it is reclaiming 48 MHz of spectrum in the 698-746 MHz (Lower 700 MHz) band for new commercial services. Television channels 52-59 currently occupy the spectrum.

These actions will benefit consumers by permitting and encourage the introduction of new and innovative wireless technologies such as Time Division Duplexing (TDD), that maximize spectrum and provide significant performance benefits. At the same time, the allocations preserve the primary status of Wireless Medical Telemetry Services and elevate Low Power Radio Services in the 216-217 MHz band, which include auditory assistance and law enforcement applications, to primary status.

This change continues the implementation of the Commission's November 1999 new U.S. spectrum management and allocation policy. Many of the actions taken in this Order will be further implemented with a forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rule Making on appropriate service rules for the reallocated frequency bands, some of which must be licensed by auction by September 2002.

The Report and Order made the following major changes:
  • Allocated the 216-220 MHz band to the fixed and mobile services on a co-primary basis. This action elevates the Low Power Radio Service (LPRS) from secondary to primary status in the 216-217 MHz band and provides existing licensees in the Automated Maritime Telecommunication System (AMTS) with additional flexibility, but does not alter the status of the 218-219 Service, which already operates on a primary basis in this spectrum. Additionally, both Government and Non-Government telemetry incumbents will be grandfathered on a secondary basis in the 216-220 MHz band and new secondary telemetry operations will be permitted in the 217-220 MHz portion of the band.

  • Allocated the 1390-1392 MHz band to the fixed-satellite service (Earth-to-space) and the 1430-1432 MHz band to the fixed-satellite service (space-to-Earth) on a primary basis. The use of these allocations will be limited to feeder links for non-voice, non-geostationary mobile-satellite service (NVNG MSS; generally known as Little LEOs) and is contingent on the adoption of a similar international allocation and other constraints.

  • Allocated the 1390-1392 MHz band to the fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) services on a co-primary basis, having determined that these services can successfully share spectrum with the Little LEO feeder uplinks. This band will be available on an unpaired basis.

  • Shifted the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) allocation from 1429-1432 MHz to 1427-1429.5 MHz as requested by the American Hospital Association. This shift will provide additional separation from high powered land mobile operations and increase available spectrum capacity for this service. The Order maintained the secondary status of non-medical telemetry systems in this band. The Order also elevated telemetry to primary status in the 1429.5-1432 MHz band.

  • Allocated the 1392-1395 MHz band and the 1432-1435 MHz band to the fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) services on a co-primary basis. These bands will be available on a paired basis.

  • Allocated the 1670-1675 band to the fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) services on a co- primary basis and the 2385-2390 MHz band to the fixed and mobile services on a co-primary basis. These bands will be available on an unpaired basis.

  • Deleted primary Federal Government allocations from the transfer bands, except in the mixed-use bands (216-220 MHz and 1670-1675 MHz), where a limited number of stations will be grandfathered indefinitely. In the exclusive non-Federal Government bands (1390-1395 MHz, 1427-1429 MHz, and 2385-2390 MHz), a limited number of sites are temporarily grandfathered pursuant to the terms of reallocation from the Federal Government. Federal agencies will not add new primary stations in any of the transfer bands. In the bands 1432-1435 MHz and 2385-2390 MHz, non-grandfathered Federal Governments stations will retain their primary status until relocated in accordance with the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1999 and forthcoming rules and procedures to be issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Click here for The full text of the Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order (FCC 01-382).

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FCC Delays Action on UWB

In a surprise move, the FCC pulled consideration of the pending UWB rules from its agenda on December 12, 2001. No reason was given for deleting the agenda item, but it is known that the Pentagon, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., has requested a minimum 60-day delay so that interference issues can be examined in more detail. Proponents of the proposed rules, including several companies set to introduce new chip sets and other products using the UWB technology, have said that the interference issues have been resolved and that the rulemaking should proceed immediately.

USA Today reported on January 3 that industry analysts expect UWB to approve the rules in February, despite concerns by airlines and cell phone carriers about interference. Read their article, FCC Set to Expand Wireless Frontier.

We suspect that these concerns can be resolved through a compromise, reserving unlicensed use of UWB to frequencies above 3 GHz. This would still allow advantages while ensuring that the critically important GPS system is not compromised.

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