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FCC and GAO Release Recommendations on Receiver Performance; Comments Invited


In early 2012, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski tasked the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC) to study the role of receivers “in ensuring the efficient use of spectrum and to provide recommendations on avoiding obstacles posed by receiver performance to making spectrum available for new services.” On April 22, 2013, the FCC released a Public Notice (Docket No. ET 13-101), detailing the recommendations of the TAC’s working group on Receivers and Spectrum in a white paper called Interference Limits Policy -- The use of harm claim thresholds to improve the interference tolerance of wireless systems. Last week, President Obama nominated TAC Chairman Tom Wheeler as FCC Chairman.

In addition to the work of the TAC, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was tasked by Congress in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to study spectrum efficiency and receiver performance. The GAO report -- titled Further Consideration of Options to Improve Receiver Performance Needed -- was recently published and references the TAC white paper. The GAO report recommends that the FCC “consider small-scale pilot tests and other methods to collect information on the practical effects of various options for improving receiver performance.” Comments on the both the TAC’s white paper and the GAO’s report are now being accepted.

According to the Public Notice, the TAC white paper said that “an interference limits policy approach may not be appropriate in all cases. Are there other policy approaches that should be considered? Moreover, the GAO report identifies the lack of incentives for manufacturers or spectrum users to incur costs associated with using more robust receivers, and the difficulty of accommodating a changing spectrum environment, such as when spectrum is repurposed for a new use.”

The white paper also noted that “interference being experienced is widely distributed both geographically and temporally. This would be the case when, for example, widely deployed consumer devices like television sets or handheld wireless devices receiving signals ‘over the air’ are interfered with by, say, geographically dispersed private land mobile radio, amateur radio transmitters or other wireless devices operating in an adjacent band. Thus the base case would exclude resolution of interference that arises when multiple radio systems (i.e., transmitters and receivers) are co-located at a single antenna site, or on a single tower, or even share a single antenna on a tower.” The ARRL is studying all the documents in this proceeding and expects to file comments.

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) is now seeking comments on whether and how the FCC should implement a policy that “incentivizes improved interference tolerance of wireless systems. Specifically, should the FCC adopt a policy of employing interference limits in certain cases of neighboring bands and services? Should the FCC adopt specific rules for establishing interference limits that are recommended by one or more multi-stakeholder groups? Should the FCC develop a compliance model [where]…there is industry-led establishment of standards and solutions and the Commission would get involved only via special petition?” Comments are due June 21; reply comments are due July 8. Information on how to file comments and reply comments can be found on page 4 of the Public Notice.




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