Waivers given to three companies to operate an experimental technology that could interfere with GPS will stay in place
The Federal Communications Commission Friday 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
of the waivers were sufficient to prevent interference with GPS. In response
to the petition, the FCC stated that transmitters manufactured under the
waivers are required to 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 waiver.
"These waivers will allow the commission to gain valuable experience with
ultra-wideband prior to adopting final rules," FCC chairman William Kennard
said in a separate statement.
The Global Positioning Industry Council and the airlines, which are concerned
about the potential interference the ultra-wideband devices may have on
GPS transmissions used for navigating and landing aircraft, among other
uses, will shift their attention to a broader ruling that would allow the
proliferation of ultra-wideband devices, said Raul Rodriguez, partner at
Leventhal, Lerman and Scenter, which represents the council.
The Transportation Department, the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration and private industry are studying the potential interference
with GPS and other technologies in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
the FCC issued this spring. Comments are due Oct. 30.
"The purpose of the filing 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."
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