Towerstream Cited For FAA Radar Interference

Doug Lung

The FCC lowered the boom on Towerstream Corporation this week in the form of a Notice of Apparent Liability that accused the company of repeated interference to the FAA's Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems, and as TDWR systems are used to measure wind shear and other weather conditions near airports, this sort of interference is potentially life threatening and, as the FCC noted, “unacceptable.”

The FCC has been investigating TDWR complaints that were traceable to Towerstream installations since 2009, and despite a number of warnings the problem remains. To show its displeasure with Towerstream’s lack of action in resolving these multiple complaints, the Commission has socked the company with a $202K fine that’s payable by Sept. 6.

The NAL Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (FCC 13-109) states that “…despite multiple warnings and prior enforcement actions, Towerstream Corporation (Towerstream) has continued to generate such interference via its Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) transmission systems in New York and Florida. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL), we therefore find that Towerstream operated radio transmitters without a license and caused harmful interference, in apparent willful and repeated violation of Sections 301 and 333 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act). We conclude that Towerstream is apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of $202,000.”

As Towerstream apparently used equipment designed for unlicensed operation, it did not have a license that the FCC could cancel due to the violations, so in addition to the NAL the FCC has directed Towerstream to submit within 30 days after NAL release date a statement “signed under penalty of perjury” that it’ complying the FCC’s U-NII rules and directives.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.