FCC Grants Waivers for More NFL Player Tracking Tech

Lamar Jackson in 2021 AFC Wild Card game
Zebra‘s battery-powered trackers are attached to NFL players in-game. (Image credit: Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

The Federal Communications Commission has granted smart tag company Zebra a trio of waivers so it can operate its player tracking devices at higher power, paving the way for even more National Football League statistics aggregated by algorithms and displayed in real time.

Zebra wearable tags convert player data to stats, which are also integrated with broadcast and replay graphics systems.

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The battery-powered tags are attached to athletes in-game.

Zebra is already the “official on-field player tracking” provider for the NFL, but it sought waivers from the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology for waivers of its rules on ultra-wideband devices to allow it to use them at higher frequencies in sports venues.

The FCC concluded that the devices operating under waivers posed no greater risk  of harmful interference to other communications services — there are a number of fixed government systems in the spectrum — than they do as currently permitted under existing rules.

The Dart tag system currently operates in the 6,300-6,800 MHz band, but Zebra wants to use it above 7,125 MHz.

No commenter opposed Zebra‘s waiver request.

John Eggerton

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.