FCC rejects GPS petition
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Jul 24, 2000
The Federal Communications Commission this month rejected a petition asking
for the withdrawal of waivers given to three companies to operate an experimental
communications technology that may interfere with the Global Positioning
The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology granted waivers in June
1999 to U.S. Radar Inc., Time Domain Corp. and Zircon Corp. to allow limited
marketing of ultra-wideband devices. The petitioners — the U.S. Global Positioning
Industry Council, American Airlines Inc. and United Airlines Inc. — said
the office did not adequately take into account the impact of ultra-wideband
devices on GPS operations and that it failed to perform the technical studies
necessary to assess the safety risks to GPS.
The FCC decided not to reconsider the waivers because it believed the
conditions imposed on them were sufficient to prevent interference with
GPS. In response to the petition, the FCC stated that transmitters manufactured
under the waivers must comply with limits on radiated emissions similar
to those currently applied to millions of other unlicensed devices, such
as personal computers. The waivers also limit the number of devices that
can be sold under the waivers.
"These waivers will allow the commission to gain valuable experience
with ultra-wideband prior to adopting final rules," said FCC Chairman William
Kennard in a separate statement.
The Global Positioning Industry Council and the airlines — which are
concerned about the potential ability of the ultra-wideband devices to interfere
with GPS transmissions used for navigating and landing aircraft, among other
activities — will now focus their efforts on blocking a broader ruling that
would allow the proliferation of ultra-wideband devices, said Raul Rodriguez,
a partner at Leventhal, Lerman and Scenter, which represents the council.
The Transportation Department, the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration and private industry are studying ultra-wideband's potential
interference with GPS and other technologies in response to a Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking that the FCC issued this spring. Comments are due Oct.
"The purpose of the [petition] was to draw to their attention that even
though there are conditions, there are holes in the conditions," Rodriguez
said. "We can't afford to risk having receivers that are interfered with."