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FCC SEEKS COMMENT ON GEAR CERTIFICATION, SATELLITE ALLOCATION

WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission issued two notices of proposed rulemaking at its monthly meeting March 12, one dealing with streamlining its authorization process for RF-related equipment and the other to allocate spectrum for commercial wireless operations in the 36 GHz-51 GHz range.

The streamlining NPRM is aimed at simplifying the existing process, deregulating authorization requirements for certain types of equipment and allowing for electronic applications filing toward the end of the year. The commission sees this move as a way of cutting its equipment-authorization applications from 3,500 per year to 1,800, and that processing time-via receipt of e-mailed applications-could be cut from 40 to 20 days. The commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology, which developed the plan, also estimated that the communications industry could realize a $100 million savings, something Commissioner Rachelle Chong said she hoped would be passed on to consumers.

The NPRM does nothing to alter technical standards currently in place at the commission. According to OET chief Richard Smith, this streamlining effort puts most of the onus for making sure RF equipment does not cause interference on the manufacturers. “Interference must be controlled at the manufacturer level,” he said. “You can’t control interference on a case-by-case basis. That would be like sweeping the waves back into the ocean with a broom.” Smith added that some FCC personnel will be assigned to spot-check installations to make sure equipment performs to standards.

Manufacturers have not had to submit actual equipment to the FCC’s testing labs for some time; equipment performance is documented on paper only. However, Smith said that some equipment-like cordless phones, garage-door openers and other spread-spectrum devices-still must be submitted for testing because their risk of interference is greater.

The industry also will comment on the commission proposal to allocate spectrum to the geostationary and non-geostationary fixed satellite service along with outlining ways other services, including commercial wireless, could work in the 36 GHz-51.4 GHz band. Service in this band currently is being pursued by Motorola Inc., which has the only pending application.

The NPRM lays out the band plan by proposing allocation changes and government sharing. Any other offshoots, like what parts of the band could be auctioned, will be handled in another proceeding. The commission also now has to consider global coordination, because as a result of the recent world trade agreement, some international satellite service providers are eligible to build earth stations in the United States.

The FSS downlinks would be located in the 37.5 GHz-38.5 GHz and 40.5 GHz-41.5 GHz band; the corresponding uplinks would be located at 48.2 GHz-50.2 GHz band. “To protect terrestrial operations, the commission proposes to upgrade from secondary to primary the fixed and mobile service allocations throughout the 40.5 GHz-42.5 GHz band,” the International Bureau said.

The proposal also seeks to segment the band to allow both satellite and terrestrial wireless services access. Some terrestrial services could be provided on an underlay basis to allow sharing between government and private entities, and the commission solicited industry comments on other “creative sharing solutions.” It is these overlay bands, which will be named later, that could come up for auction.

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