FCC trying to boost wireless innovation
The Federal Communications Commission sought to cut the red tape it takes to roll out wireless gadgets and services by voting Thursday to streamline the process inventors go through for testing on the nation’s airwaves.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski explained before the vote, “Wireless innovation is a key to U.S. competitiveness,”. “This is part of our collective effort to say the U.S. is committed to leadership in this area and make the U.S. — for today and the future — the world’s innovation hub for wireless.”
The move by the commission consolidates various rules governing experimental airwaves licenses into one section, allowing researchers to make changes to power levels and frequencies and easing approval for market trials and medical testing.
“What we’re doing today is taking our experimental licensing program to the next level to meet the needs of even more rapid experimentation and innovation in the wireless world to help drive our economy,” Genachowski said.
While the changes make it easier for inventors to tinker with their experiments, it includes safeguards to protect services that already are being used.
Researchers have to tell incumbent license holders that they might interfere with the service in use and will have to shut down the experiments if they cause problems. Incumbents will also have time to object to the experimental uses before they occur.
Noting that the current experimental licenses have allowed “systems to support rocket launches, development of patient monitoring equipment and new robotic technology for the armed forces” in the past, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the changes will allow American inventors to create “simply neat stuff.”
The commission’s vote is not the last word in this area as the FCC is also taking a thorough review of the agency’s process for approving new wireless devices.
“For the first time in over a decade, we are beginning to take a serious look at how new radio equipment is approved,” Rosenworcel said. “We have in front of our offices a proposed rule making designed to expedite the equipment authorization process.”
Rosenworcel said the commission needs to take steps to speed the monthlong certification process for new gadgets.
“By moving new devices through our approval process more quickly, we can put them on the market sooner,” she said. “I think combining streamlined equipment authorization with new experimental licenses will provide a great jolt to wireless innovation.”