AIA urges cautious approach to ultra-wide band devices

The US Aerospace Industries Association is telling the FCC that it should authorise commercial ultra-wide band devices to operate at frequencies above 6 GHz to protect critical US Federal systems from interference.

The US Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) is telling the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it should authorise commercial ultra-wide band (UWB) devices, such as ground penetrating radar, to operate at frequencies above 6 GHz to protect critical US Federal systems from interference.

AIA is currently working with the US Defense Department’s Office of Spectrum Management as well as various federal agencies on the issue of ultra-wide band communications. The FCC has indicated it plans to proceed with a report and order on UWB at its February 14 public meeting.

Ultra-wideband communications devices use a unique technology for transmitting low-power signals over short distances. As well as ground and wall-penetrating radars, other potential UWB applications include automotive crash avoidance, and wireless communications systems.

While these applications can benefit the public, testing to date shows these devices interfere significantly with existing services, even when the devices comply with current limitations under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules.

Potentially affected services include the Global Positioning System (GPS), Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, Microwave Landing Systems, Personal Communications Systems (PCS), Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN), and others.

Permitting UWB devices to operate within critical restricted radio frequency bands, particularly those below 6 GHz, has the potential to degrade the US’s aviation, safety and security capabilities, according to the AIA.

There is widespread support from affected government agencies and industry for the FCC to identify spectrum above 6 GHz for the operation of UWB devices.

The DoD and DOT have individually raised concerns about interference to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and requested that NTIA, as their representative, secure an appropriate FCC regulatory framework for UWB that protects critical Federal systems from such interference. At least two heads of civilian agencies, the DOT and NASA, have written to DOC Secretary Donald Evans expressing concern about how to safely introduce commercial UWB.

AIA’s recommendation and the emission restrictions advocated by the US government would ensure that ultra-wideband technology development is consistent with US security and civil aviation safety needs.

Editor’s note: UWB radio systems typically use extremely narrow pulse (impulse) modulation or swept frequency modulation that employs a fast sweep over a wide bandwidth. Because of the type of modulation employed, the emission bandwidths of UWB devices generally exceed 1GHz and may be greater than 10GHz. In some cases, these pulses do not modulate a carrier. Instead, the radio frequency emissions generated by the pulses are applied to an antenna, the resonant frequency of which determines the centre frequency of the radiated emission.

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