FCC Proposes Changes to Unlicensed Device Technical Regulations

The FCC proposing changes to Part 2 and Part 15 of its Rules to make it easier to deploy advanced technology for unlicensed wireless data systems. The modified rules would provide for the use of sectorized and phased array antenna systems (smart antennas) that improve range and increase spectrum efficiency by allowing greater re-use of existing frequencies. The FCC News Release said, "The rule changes, proposed in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, would permit operators, including wireless Internet service providers (WISPs), and device manufacturers to more readily modify or substitute technically equivalent parts, facilitating increased deployment of broadband services. WISPs use unlicensed devices to provide a broadband alternative for rural and underserved areas and, while they are a relatively nascent industry, their deployment rates have been increasing rapidly."

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) also seeks comments on relaxation of regulatory constraints on system design and equipment authorizations for unlicensed devices. These authorizations have traditionally been done on a system-by-system basis and leave little flexibility for modifications. Other rules changes would harmonize technical rules for equivalent unlicensed devices, including power spectral densities for the same regions of spectrum and measurement procedures for digital modulation devices. Rules changes to allow higher speed next-generation Bluetooth devices are also considered in the NPRM.

Vivato is one of the companies building wireless networks with phased-array antennas. See the Technology Overview on their Web site for details on how it worked. RF Report will have a link to the NPRM when it is released by the FCC and posted on the Internet.