FCC to Monitor Cable’s UWB Concerns

The Federal Communications Commission Wednesday adopted new ultra-wideband (UWB) rules without directly addressing interference concerns raised by segments of the cable and broadcast industries.

The FCC rules, adopted unanimously, are designed to promote an unlicensed high-speed wireless-data service that operates at lower power.

But cable programmers argued that without proper restrictions, UWB could cause harmful interference to cable signals sent via satellite to 9,000 cable headends around the country. And a few broadcasters raised identical concerns.

Cable sources said they would need to study the FCC ruling before commenting.

An FCC source said cable’s interference concerns were not viewed as realistic because antennas at cable headends point to the sky, while UWB is expected to flourish as an indoor service, allowing for superfast data transfers among home computers.

However, FCC chairman Michael Powell and commissioners Kathleen Abernathy and Michael Copps indicated that they would monitor the interference issue.

“We will continue to look at and be concerned about and make sure that there isn’t interference between the ultra-wideband users and the licensed service providers, such as the [fixed-satellite-service] providers,” Abernathy said.

Copps added, “The arguments that the cable industry and others made in this order … should remind us yet again about the importance of redoubling our efforts to improve enforcement in the interference area.”