The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday approved the limited use of a little-known but controversial technology named ultrawideband (UWB) that sends its signal over the noise section of the radio spectrum instead of over a carrier wave.
The FCC voted to approve marketing and operation of products using UWB technology but limited it to the range above the 3.1GHz frequency.
The FCC also put restrictions on UWB devices operating in radio frequencies below 960MHz, which are used by most radio stations, TV stations and older mobile phone networks.
UWB has raised concern that it would interfere with other users of the airwaves.
The technology, which has been used by the military for more than twenty years for highly secure communications, became declassified in the last decade. The FCC said since there is no production of UWB equipment available and there is little operational experience of the impact of UWB on other radio services, the commission chose to err on the side of caution by setting emission limits when there were unresolved interference issues.
Michael Copps, FCC Commissioner, said opinion differs greatly on the interference effect of the widespread public use of UWB technologies.
"If interference does occur, it could conceivably affect critical government and non-government spectrum users. Our national defence and several safety-of-life systems depend on bands that have the potential to be impacted by UWB devices," he said.
Copps said the FCC intends to review the standards for UWB devices within the next six to twelve months.
Compaq, IBM, Intel and others have lobbied the FCC, and UWB networking devices are expected to be out in trial quantities by the first half of the year.
Bruce Watkins, president and COO of PulseLINK, a developer of UWB technologies, said: "The FCC's approval is a benchmark validation that recognises the significant gains UWB can bring to public benefit."
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