In FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s final open meeting, the commission approved several items affecting wireless communications, including one that a dissenting commissioner claimed could impact some 911 funding mechanisms for PSAPs.

In the item, the FCC approved an extension of the commission’s truth-in-billing guidelines governing wireline telecom carriers to wireless carriers, which have long opposed the inclusion of fees established by individual state PUCs. The commission also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to seek comment on whether other billing areas exist where the FCC might pre-empt states.

FCC officials emphasized that the vote will not impact state E-911 charges, but Commissioner Michael Copps said such efforts to raise funds for public-safety answering points could be in jeopardy.

“Tennessee may find that its billing mechanism to support enhanced 911 services is suddenly suspect,” Copps said. “The record suggests that the fate of Washington State’s 911 funding system may be similarly uncertain.

“It will take some time for states to survey the debris from this erosion of cooperative federalism," Copps continued. "And there may be further wreckage on the horizon, because in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking accompanying today’s order, the majority tentatively concludes that it should preempt all state laws involving billing clarity that are more extensive than our minimal federal requirements. As I understand it, this could even apply to wireline as well as to wireless bills.”

In other action, the FCC approved the following:

A change in ultrawideband (UWB) rules that will let UWB be offered at greater power levels, thereby extending the range of the technology. Requested by proponents of the multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) standard backed by Intel, the ruling will allow the competing direct sequence UWB (DS-UWB) to deliver multiple high-definition video streams up to 20 meters, according to DS-UWB proponent Freescale Semiconductor.

A “hybrid” licensing approach for wireless solutions in the 3650-3700 MHz band. The spectrum can be used by anyone, like an unlicensed band, but users will have to license their base stations as part of an effort to mitigate interference concerns. The commission is hopeful the band will be used to provide wireless broadband solutions, particularly in rural areas.

Modifications and clarifications to authorization requirements for software defined radios and cognitive radios to facilitate development of those technologies.