"potential for interference to degrade GPS", my ass. The potential is
so high, it will put GPS clean out of business. What next, will FCC
outlaw badly shielded laptops?
More Delays for Ultrawideband
By Aaron Pressman
(The Industry Standard)
Proponents of ultrawideband, a new technology for wireless
transmissions, face a longer wait for government approval after the
Department of Commerce on Friday revealed that it will need an
additional three months to finish critical interference tests.
The Federal Communications Commission is deciding whether to allow
widespread use of ultrawideband devices, which can transmit huge
amounts of data over the air using just a fraction of the power
required by cell phones or current wireless networking systems. The
technology also can be used in precision tracking devices and for
X-ray-like radar that can peer through walls.
But the low-power signals emitted by ultrawideband devices operate
over a wide swath of frequencies, including many already being used by
existing broadcast, radar and wireless communications systems. The
Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information
Administration was tapped to conduct tests to determine whether
ultrawideband devices would interfere with existing critical systems
like airport radar and global positioning satellite receivers.
The NTIA issued its radar findings in January and was to have
completed GPS interference tests by Friday, but in a footnote to
Friday's 150-page report, the agency revealed that it was unable to
complete measurement results for two out of four types of GPS
"They've told us that they'll need until June," says John Reed, a
senior engineer in the FCC's Office of Engineering and
Technology. Once all the results are in, the FCC will seek public
comment before making a final decision. "Right now, we're quite a ways
away from finishing up," Reed added.
The NTIA issued the report without comment. The Bush administration
has yet to name a director for the agency since Clinton appointee Greg
Rhode left the job.
The FCC's rulemaking procedure could bring the two agencies into
conflict. The FCC oversees commercial spectrum users, many of whom
support ultrawideband, while the NTIA manages government users, some
of whom oppose the new technology. In the past, each agency has tended
to favor the needs of its constituents.
Companies working on ultrawideband, like Time Domain of Huntsville,
Ala., want the FCC to allow mass-market sales of their products
without requiring individual licenses for each device. They argue that
their systems emit less power than even ordinary appliances, like hair
dryers and electric razors. Under the FCC's Part 15 rules, the agency
allows such unintentional emissions as long as the products operate
below a specified power level.
"We are confident the FCC will impose appropriate regulations for this
new technology," says Time Domain Vice President Jeffrey Ross. Time
Domain has criticized the NTIA's test procedures and paid for a
separate study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, which also was
issued on Friday and submitted to the FCC.
"We look forward to the FCC's timely completion of its rulemaking once
the public and interested parties have had an opportunity to comment
on these results," Ross says.
Opponents of ultrawideband devices, including much of the air
transportation industry and some companies that make GPS equipment,
argue that emissions from ultrawideband devices are much more likely
to cause interference than hair dryers and razors. They've pressed
their concerns with the Federal Aviation Administration and with the
government's GPS oversight board. They also have called for the tests
to be conducted by the NTIA, which in turn received funding for the
tests from the FAA and the GPS board.
The NTIA reports issued so far "indicate that there is potential for
interference to degrade GPS," says David Stemple, president of the Air
Travelers Association that has lobbied against ultrawideband. "We
can't afford to experiment in this spectrum."
Some opposition comes from industries like GPS, which could lose
business to ultrawideband, according to Scott Cleland, Washington
analyst at the Precursor Group.
"This is a classic case where incumbents with something to lose don't
want to enable a new, disruptive technology," says Cleland. "There are
some legitimate concerns about interference but my guess is that a lot
of it is a desire to keep a new technology down."
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:13:59 PDT