The Federal Communication Commission has given ultra-wideband the green light again.

The FCC adopted a “Memorandum Opinion and Order” that reaffirmed procedures adopted last year to authorize the unlicensed operations of devices — with a few changes.

In general, the commission did not make any major changes to existing UWB technical parameters — a move that implies the commission is reluctant to do so until it has learned more about the technology.

The commissioners also hinted that any changes to the rules for existing UWB product categories at this point would be disruptive to industry product development.

Rather, the commissioners reviewed the requests from the petitioners and granted those that will not increase the interference potential of UWB devices.

The commission denied requests that pushed for stronger restrictions.

The commission also expressed its belief that the next 12 to 18 months should allow the introduction of UWB devices under the adopted rules.

The commissioners indicted that it also intends to investigate the potential impact of UWB devices on various radio services and would continue its review of the UWB standards to determine where additional changes warrant consideration.

Chairman Michael Powell insisted that this confirmation “provides UWB developers and manufacturers with much needed regulatory certainty.

“Consistent with the objectives identified in the Spectrum Policy Task Force report, the order we adopt increases access to spectrum by leveraging innovative technology while protecting incumbents from harmful interference,” Powell added. “Achieving a stable regulatory framework will allow a reorientation of energy away from the regulatory process and toward making these remarkable, potentially life-saving devices available for use — particularly by the public safety community.”

“The UWB experience also offers a valuable lesson in the pitfalls of reactive spectrum policymaking, and emphasizes the need for new, forward-thinking approaches, such as those recommended by the task force. Presented with a disruptive technology like UWB, the Commission scrambled to develop a regulatory framework to allow for its deployment in the marketplace. Implementation of the Task Force's recommendations would place the Commission on the leading edge of innovation — creating clear ground rules that allow new technologies to be developed and then deployed immediately, without requiring innovators to approach the Commission on bended knee, and to face a protracted regulatory approval process. Future developments in spectrum-based technologies should be limited only by the constraints of physics — not by the out-dated constraints of the regulatory code.”

Commissioner Copps echoed Powell's remarks, touching on the public safety angle.

“Today's decision should be seen as a reaffirmation that UWB is here to stay,” Copps said. “I hope soon to see firemen and policemen benefit from new safety devices, drivers find greater safety with automotive radar systems, and home electronics owners connect their computers, stereos, and other devices with UWB home networks. And while I hope we have no reason to ever use UWB to assist search-and-rescue teams in a disaster, I'll be glad that we have this tool available should the need arise. As UWB devices are brought to market, the FCC will test them and be alert for interference complaints — but today's continued conservative approach should minimize interference problems.”

On Feb. 14, 2002, the commission set up regulations allowing the marketing and operation of types of new products incorporating UWB technology. As part of that, UWB can be used in a number of new applications.

Advances in UWB have resulted in its potential use for a variety of applications, such as radar imaging of objects buried under the ground or behind walls and short-range, high-speed data transmissions.