[ text version ]

January 9, 1997




Re: Operation of Unlicensed NII Devices in the 5 GHz Frequency Range

Today the Commission opens another door to the wireless future by authorizing a new category of unlicensed, short-range, broadband digital devices.

As a result, wireless local area network (LAN) and other equipment can now be developed to connect our computers, laptops, and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to each other, to the Internet of today, and to the global information infrastructure of tomorrow. In many buildings, including schools, a wireless connection will be a cost-effective alternative to pulling wire through walls and ceilings.

We are providing a total of 300 megahertz of spectrum for these devices. This generous amount will permit substantial experimentation with technologies and features, and will support widespread use of these devices in the future.

While this spectrum is shared with existing services, our technical rules will permit these devices to operate without causing harmful interference. This is an example of how unlicensed devices and spectrum sharing can increase the efficient use of our spectrum.

This equipment has not yet been developed and tested, but our spectrum allocation today moves it forward. The bands selected are consistent with the European High Performance Local Area Network (HIPERLAN) potentially enabling such devices to be exported.

While it is too early to know which technologies and devices might succeed in the marketplace, the potential is created for U.S. leadership in a whole new world of high-tech digital wireless products.