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December 7, 2000

Separate Statement of Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: In the Matter of the Authorization and Use of Software Defined Radios, ET Docket 00-47

As I stated at the time we adopted our Notice of Inquiry, I am bullish about the prospect of "software defined radio" ("SDR"). SDR is a new generation of technology that would allow communications equipment to adapt to multiple standards and add service features without changes to the equipment's hardware.

SDR holds the potential to enhance our participation in the global economy, to access new services, and to use the spectrum more efficiently. For example, SDR could facilitate the development of secondary markets for spectrum, because equipment could more easily operate under different parameters in different places. SDR could facilitate interoperability for users -- including public safety -- by making it easier to modify devices to communicate with each other. And SDR could facilitate global deployment of equipment, by making it easier for devices to operate in different bands and different modes, consistent with country allocations and rules.

To realize these benefits, however, we will have to alter our traditional equipment authorization process. Let me be clear: our need to protect the public from harmful interference from non-compliant equipment is not diminished. But as we have found elsewhere with our regulatory framework, our legacy regulations for equipment approval may impede rather than facilitate innovation. Thus, we must focus on developing more flexible ways to assure the Commission and the public that equipment complies with our technical rules, and that health and safety of the public is not compromised.

Today, we propose several modest steps to facilitate the use of SDR. I encourage parties to think creatively on ways to ensure that equipment complies with our rules without impeding the development of new and useful technologies like Software Defined Radio. Any rules that would enable new and innovative products to reach the marketplace more quickly without compromising safety and interference protection for existing services would most certainly serve the public interest.