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FCC Cites WISPs for Alleged Interference with Weather Systems

The FCC has proposed fining three Puerto Rican fixed wireless internet service providers (WISPs) and issued a formal warning to the resort of the industry after the FCC concluded three WISPs had "apparently caused interference to the Federal Aviation Administration’s terminal doppler weather radar station in San Juan."

The fines are $25,000 apiece and are levied against Boom Solutions, Integra Wireless, and WinPR. The companies have a chance to appeal, so the fines are not final. The bureau also said they were the largest that could be imposed for the alleged offense.

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau, which issued the Notices of Apparent Liability, said that the companies had misconfigured devices by turning off a feature that would have prevented the interference to systems meant to detect wind shear and other dangerous weather, meaning such interference could be life-threatening.

The fines highlights the tough issue of spectrum sharing, including with existing weather sensing systems, sharing that the FCC is promoting but that some stakeholders say creates potential interference problems like the one it identified in Puerto Rico.

But the bureau suggested that if the devices were used properly properly and certified by the FCC, which it warned the industry to make sure it was doing, they would not be interfering.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.