FCC Will Await TAC, GAO Reports on Receiver Interference Before Deciding Path to Solution

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By Amy E. Bivins  


The Federal Communications Commission will hold off on deciding whether to pursue new rules for receiver performance until it reviews upcoming reports on the topic from its Technological Advisory Council and the Government Accountability Office, an FCC staffer told lawmakers Nov. 29.

The FCC has traditionally managed spectrum by focusing on transmitters as opposed to receivers. But as the demand for spectrum grows, the agency is considering the impact of receiver performance on access to spectrum for new services.

“Receiver performance is becoming increasingly important as a limiting factor as we move to repurpose spectrum and pack more services closer together on the spectrum chart,” Ronald T. Repasi, deputy chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC, said.

Repasi spoke at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing exploring the role of receivers in light of spectrum scarcity.

Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said that the subcommittee will continue to be involved and looks forward to the GAO and TAC reports. The TAC report is scheduled to be published Dec. 10.

Regulations or Market Solutions Possible.

Earlier this year, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski initiated a review of spectrum efficiency and receiver standards with a two-day workshop. He also tasked the TAC to study the issue of receiver performance.

One approach that is being discussed within the TAC is based on developing interference protection limits for receivers. The discussions have revealed that private sector standards are often not developed in coordination with adjacent services, are not well known, or the basis for the standards is not well understood, Repasi said.

The commission is sensitive to industry concerns about added regulation of devices, which could drive up costs, but has not ruled out the possibility, Repasi said.

But the agency is also open to the prospect of industry-created standards, a notion that Brian Markwalter, senior vice president, research and standards, at the Consumer Electronics Association, praised at the hearing.

“Equipment manufacturers and mobile providers have a strong self-interest in developing and deploying devices that are resistant to forms of interference and devices that create as little interference as possible,” Markwalter remarked.

Markwalter said that the ultimate goal of spectrum management should be to make the interference environment more transparent, so that designers have all the information needed to deliver cost-effective products. To achieve that goal, he said that the FCC should outline the environment in which it expects receivers to operate, and encourage industry to adopt voluntary receiver performance guidelines through voluntary standards-setting organizations.

The commission is waiting for the reports from the TAC and GAO before developing any recommendations, Repasi said. “We want to be sure that we don't curb innovation,” he added.

Information about the hearing at http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/role-receivers-spectrum-scarce-world.

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