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FCC Increases Wireless Spectrum Five-Fold

The Federal Communications Commission Thursday made a major policy shift in the federal rules that govern U.S. wireless communications.

The Commission amended Part 15 of the its rules concerning wireless devices operating in the 2.4-gigahertz band. The FCC's decision permits wideband frequency-hopping products to operate at similar power levels to existing wireless local area network systems, opening the door to innovation and increased competition in the wireless arena.

The new rules call for a minimum of 15 hopping channels, spanning a total of 75 megahertz. Hopping channels are permitted to be up to 5 megahertz wide. With wider bandwidths allowed, providers are free to offer high-speed data rates over wireless devices.

By utilizing fast frequency-hopping technology, manufacturers will be able to offer low-cost, more power efficient wireless devices that can provide superior interference protection, security, and network scalability.

This FCC action paves the way for development of a new generation of interference-immune, high-speed wireless networking technology designed to extend the reach of broadband multimedia services within homes, schools, and businesses.

The ruling is nothing short of a break though in the way U.S. wireless access providers can connect customers to broadband services.

Spread spectrum devices were only permitted to operate on an unlicensed basis by the FCC. Due to interference in other frequencies, U.S. wireless providers ability to hop spectrum was limited. The Home RF Working Group lobbied with the FCC to change the rules of the game.

By accepting HomeRF's proposal, the FCC enables frequency hopping spread spectrum devices operating in the 2.4-gigahertz band to increase data transmission speeds five-fold, from 2 megabits per second to 10 megabits per second.

Wide band frequency hopping enables high-speed wireless providers to serve up home access capable of integrating data, voice, and video communications.

The Committee for Unlicensed Broadband Enablement (CUBE) agreed with HomeRF, stating that the proposed rule changes were necessary to preserve the competitive balance between the capabilities of frequency hopping and direct sequence spread spectrum devices operating in this band.

CUBE asserted that ensuring the frequency for hopping technology would be competitive with direct sequence technology and ultimately benefit consumers. In addition to leading to the development of improved wireless devices operating at lower costs, CUBE noted that the proposal to permit up to 5 MHz bandwidths for spectrum hopping would allow backward compatibility with existing devices.

More than 80 additional parties submitted comments and ex parte filings in support of recommendations from CUBE and HomeRF.

Wire-free broadband networking firm and HomeRF member Proxim, Inc. was quick to give federal regulators a corporate "pat on the back" for the rules change.

David C. King, Proxim chairman, president and chief executive officer lavished well-deserved praise on federal regulators.

"We commend the FCC for taking this important step to promote competition on a level playing field and encourage the development of a new generation of advanced broadband wireless networking technology," King said.

Other leading members of HomeRF included Charter Communications, Inc., Compaq Computer Corp. , Intel Corp. and Motorola, Inc. . The tech leaders agree that the FCC has made an entirely new generation of high-speed wirel



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