Let Me In, Innovation Man: FCC Revisits Experimental Licensing

The FCC has announced new proposals to promote investment and create jobs in wireless broadband. On November 30, the FCC announced at its open meeting that it sought to boost innovation in the telecommunications marketplace and to help restore the country’s prominence in research and development through two new proceedings.

In the first proceeding, citing past achievements such as Wi-Fi and PCS that grew out of experimental licensing, the FCC is proposing to overhaul its experimental licensing rules to streamline the process by which new devices and technologies can move from R&D to deployment. Utilizing a new license called a “program license,” the FCC will establish “innovation zones” -- specifying areas where experiments can be conducted without command and control licensing. The FCC also will make it easier for universities and labs to conduct experiments and will enable health care institutions to obtain program licenses for telemedicine research. The FCC also signaled that it would ease some of the restrictions surrounding market trials to allow consumers to have more access to new products. Interestingly, Commissioner Baker suggested that improved experimental licensing rules could provide some answers to improve spectrum efficiency in the TV bands.

For the second item, the FCC adopted a Notice of Inquiry on “dynamic spectrum access” and “opportunistic” uses of spectrum to promote more efficient spectrum use. “Dynamic” access refers to the availability of spectrum in certain locations for brief intervals and whether radio technologies can evolve to take advantage of these dynamic spectrum opportunities and thus promote wireless broadband. The NOI also invites public comment on the benefits of mandating a database model – such as the white space geo-location database – to promote efficiency. The NOI will also look at ways the FCC’s secondary markets rules could be enhanced by allowing opportunistic or “spot” use of spectrum.

Taken together, these items demonstrate the FCC’s ongoing push to increase broadband opportunities and to boost availability and efficient use of spectrum resources. These proceedings may offer new opportunities particularly for colleges and universities to move the state of the art forward.


Comments (1)

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Jeff Tebo - January 13, 2011 6:11 PM

Thanks for talking at lunch today. Thank you also for your presentation and your efforts on our behalf.