[ Text Version | Word97 Version ]

July 14, 2000


Re: U.S. GPS Industry Council, American Airlines and United Airlines, Consolidated Petition for Reconsideration of Waivers Issued under Delegated Authority by the Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, Order (rel. July 14, 2000).

Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology may offer us a wonderful opportunity to use spectrum more efficiently. This technology appears to be able to operate on spectrum already occupied by existing radio services without causing interference.

I am pleased that the Commission has unanimously ruled to deny a petition for reconsideration of the Commissionís decision to grant waivers to permit early operations of UWB technology. These waivers will allow the Commission to gain valuable experience with ultrawideband prior to adopting final rules.

Some opponents of UWB technology are concerned about potential harmful effects from UWB emissions into the Global Positioning Service (GPS) band. The Commission has committed to ensuring that safety services, such as GPS, are protected against harmful interference. To ensure this protection, the Commission noted that further testing and analysis would be required before final technical rules for UWB operations could be established.

Release of this item was delayed for approximately five months after its adoption by a vote of the Commissioners. This inordinate delay should never happen again. Indeed, the Commission has worked hard in recent years to improve the timeliness of the release of documents and have generally corrected the problem of delayed release of items after adoption.

The anomaly is due in large measure to coordination efforts between the FCC staff and the staff of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which shares jurisdiction with the Commission on spectrum issues. Coordination was further complicated by inter-agency discussions related to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on UWB issued in May of this year. NTIA's assistance on Ultra-wideband is invaluable and indeed necessary because of the intentional emissions from UWB technology into frequencies designated for Government use. It is vital that the FCC and NTIA maintain a positive working relationship on this and similar spectrum management issues. However, we can do so only insofar as we remain sensitive to the Commission's responsibilities as an independent regulatory agency, charged with developing a full and public record of its decision making and the need to come to closure once the Commissioners have stated their views by voting an item. This item is far from a model of interagency coordination and we must strive to do better in the future. UWB is too promising a technology for it to be delayed by interagency coordination.