DOD continues to dog FCC on spectrum use

DOD continues to dog FCC on spectrum use

What is UWB?

  • Ultra-wideband transmissions send an extremely low-power, pulsed signal over a wide swath of radio spectrum. It differs from conventional radio systems that operate within a relatively narrow bandwidth. The combination of broader spectrum, lower power and pulsed data generally is believed to create less interference than conventional narrowband radio signals.

  • On the eve of a Federal Communications Commission vote on whether to approve the use of ultra-wideband technology across all radio frequency bands, the Defense Department continued to push FCC to protect military-only bands.

    The commission'which has expressed interest in allowing low-power, unlicensed use of the ultra-wideband technology to further next-generation wireless communications'has scheduled a Feb. 14 vote on its plan.

    But in a recent letter to Michael Gallagher, deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for communications and information, Defense Department CIO John P. Stenbit called for changes in the FCC plan and revived debate over radio frequency use.

    Stenbit reminded Gallagher of the need to preserve national security by maintaining the systems that operate in the military-controlled spectrum, which is coveted by wireless companies looking to expand their services.

    Stenbit said DOD supports ultra-wideband development and its potential for commercial and military uses.

    'United States military forces have been early and ardent advocates for testing and deploying UWB systems,' Stenbit said. 'However, DOD seeks to ensure that such development will proceed in a prudent manner.'

    The Defense CIO argued that nonlicensed use of the technology below the 4.2-GHz frequency poses a risk of interference with Defense systems, such as the Global Positioning System.

    DOD favors ultra-wideband transmissions above that frequency, he said.

    Stenbit also questioned the precedent the vote would set if FCC allows unconstrained use of spectrum for ultra-wideband devices, even in currently restricted bands.

    'This holds the dangerous potential to set a precedent whereby the FCC could eliminate protection of restricted government bands, which are essential to national security, safety of life and the economic security of the nation,' he said.

    It's an old argument for DOD. But the Transportation Department, NASA, GPS companies, two public safety organizations and some mobile phone carriers are also voicing opposition to the current plan.

    Transportation and NASA both use restricted bands above 4.2 GHz. Both agencies are against ultra-wideband devices operating in their bands and fear interference with weather radar, navigation and landing systems.

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