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FCC Adopts Ultra Wideband Rule Changes

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) adopted minor changes Thursday for the rules issued last year for the operation of unlicensed ultra wideband (UWB) devices. The changes were made to facilitate requests by law enforcement and fire fighting officials for the use of through-wall imaging systems and ground penetrating radar (GPR).

In general, the FCC did not make any significant changes to the existing UWB technical parameters, indicating that it is reluctant to do so until it has gained more experience with the interference potential of UWB devices. An FCC statement said the agency thinks that the next 12 to 18 months should allow the introduction of UWB devices under the recently adopted rules.

The Commission indicted that it also intends to investigate the potential impact of UWB devices on various radio services and would continue its review of the UWB standards to determine where additional changes warrant consideration.

Thursday's action amended the rules to facilitate the operation of through-wall imaging systems by law enforcement, emergency rescue and firefighter personnel in emergency situations; eliminated the requirement that GPRs and wall imaging systems operate with their 10 degree dB bandwidths below 960 MHz or above 3.1 GHz; and specified the limitations on who may operate GPR systems and wall imaging systems and for what purposes.

The FCC also eliminated the requirement for non-hand held GPRs to employ a dead man switch; clarified the coordination requirements for imaging devices; and clarified the rules regarding emissions produced by digital circuitry used by UWB transmitters.

In addition, the Commission proposed additional new rules to address issues raised regarding the operation of low pulse repetition frequency (PRF) UWB systems, including vehicular radars, in the 3.1-10.6 GHz band; the operation of frequency hopping vehicular radars in the 22-29 GHz band as UWB devices; the establishment of new peak power limits for wideband Part 15 devices that do not operate as UWB devices; and the definition of a UWB device.