FCC Rejects Satellite Radio's Petition to Ban RF Lights in 2.45 GHz Band
November 16, 2004
When XM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio learned that Fusion Lighting was proposing to sell RF lighting devices that would operate in the 2.45 GHz band, they submitted technical studies showing how these devices could interfere with their satellite radio systems operating in the 2320 to 2345 MHz band. In May 2003, the FCC adopted an Order terminating a proceeding it started in 1998 that would have defined out-of-band emission limits for RF lights operating at 2.45 GHz, saying the record of the proceeding had become outdated and Fusion, the only party that had expressed an interest in 2.45 GHz RF lighting, had stopped pursuing development of RF lights in that band. After the FCC terminated the proceeding, XM and Sirius filed a Joint Petition seeking specific clarification that RF lighting devices will not be permitted to use the 2.45 GHz band and asking that "before the Commission considers permitting any such operations, it will either establish another rulemaking, or provide ample notice to affected parties such as the Satellite Radio Licensees."
In Order FCC 04-263 the Commission explained that microwave RF lights are subject to existing out-of-band radiated emission limits applicable to microwave ovens and other miscellaneous ISM equipment operating in the 2.4 to 2.5 GHz band. They are also required to operate under the non-interference restriction in section 18.111(b), which requires the operator of the equipment to "promptly take all necessary steps to eliminate harmful interference to any authorized radio service, even if the equipment otherwise complies with the rules." The FCC said this provided Sirius and XM "adequate recourse against potentially harmful interference to satellite radio receivers..."
The Order (FCC 04-263) concluded, "We therefore decline to provide the requested relief from the Satellite Radio Licensees to prohibit operation of all RF lights in the 2.45 GHz band, as we find that the requested prohibition is overarching and is not warranted based on the circumstances. If there is evidence that any entity will seek to operate RF lights in the 2.45 GHz band and cause harmful interference to satellite radio receivers as a consequence, and our existing limits prove inadequate, we will at that time take appropriate action."
Satellite radio licensees weren't the only ones concerned about interference from the Fusion RF lights when they were proposed. See the June 6, 2002 Robert X. Cringely article Running Interference--There's a Big Threat to 802.11b Networking, Yet Nobody Seems to Care--Here's Why.