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Blog Posts by Julius Knapp

Securing RF Devices Amid Changing Technology

by Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering & Technology
October 8, 2015 - 03:56 PM

This summer, the Commission opened a rulemaking proceeding with the goal of modernizing our approval process for radio devices to help us keep pace with the accelerating introduction of an ever-expanding breadth of wireless devices and products into the marketplace.

The proposed rules will help the Commission not only better address the realities of device manufacture and use today but plan for the spectrum policy of the future. As Chairman Wheeler has announced, this month the Commission will consider a rulemaking on the use of higher-frequency bands for mobile and other uses that will “focus on developing a flexible regulatory framework that will allow maximum use of higher-frequency bands by a wide variety of providers,” including “hybrid shared models” to promote more flexible use in higher bands.

But flexible use requires manufacturers, users, and the FCC to be even more vigilant in monitoring and preventing harmful interference – and that’s where this new rulemaking proceeding plays a critical role. The rulemaking will establish for all device approvals a policy that the Commission has adopted for individual device categories over the last few years of requiring manufacturers to certify that a device cannot be modified by the installation of third party software in a way that causes those devices to create harmful interference.

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Creating a “Model City” to test spectrum sharing technologies

by Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering & Technology
July 11, 2014 - 02:39 PM

Today, the FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology (OET) and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a Joint Public Notice that seeks input on the establishment of a “Model City” program to test advanced wireless spectrum sharing technologies.

The NTIA and the FCC have encouraged and supported the development of advanced spectrum sharing technologies and techniques. Notably, the Commission recently revised its experimental licensing rules to facilitate development of radio technologies by establishing provisions for program licenses and innovation zones.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommended the creation of an “urban Test City” to “support rapid experimentation” of advanced spectrum sharing technologies. The Joint Public Notice seeks to start the process of transforming this recommendation from an idea to reality. We have chosen to use the term “Model City” to better reflect the idea that systems or networks might be developed that could serve as a model for spectrum sharing techniques that can be deployed elsewhere.

It is too soon to know what a “Model City” might entail and what aspects would fall within the jurisdiction of the NTIA and/or the FCC. For example, the model city could be developed as a public-private partnership and implemented under existing provisions such as the FCC’s experimental licensing program.

What is clear is that there is a high likelihood that both NTIA and FCC will have a role to play, particularly because most of the spectrum is shared between federal and non-federal users. That is why we have initiated this process through a joint notice.

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Our Role in Expanding Inflight Mobile Wireless Services

December 5, 2013 - 04:00 PM

The Federal Communications Commission’s proposal on inflight mobile wireless services on airplanes is consistent with the Commission’s role as an expert agency. We would like to offer additional information about why the Commission is taking this action now and provide a little more insight into what the proposal entails.

The FCC is an independent agency that is charged with overseeing the communications industry and communications technology, including technical, legal, economic, and policy-oriented issues.  The agency was created in 1934 to oversee the networks of telephony and broadcast and, eventually, cable and wireless carriers.  In fulfilling its legal obligations, the FCC must act consistently with the public interest, convenience, and necessity.  As the expert agency on communications, it is the FCC’s role to re-examine our rules in light of new technology and to eliminate unnecessary regulations when appropriate.

Under the proposal, which will be put out for public comment, the default will still be (and in fact will more clearly be) that the use of mobile wireless services is prohibited, absent specialized onboard equipment.  If the new technology isn’t installed, the prohibition remains.  If the new technology is installed, airlineswould still have the ultimate say on whether and how to provide service – including the ability to program the system not to handle voice calls (while allowing text, email, and web browsing).  In addition, systems can also be turned off if necessary for safety announcements and emergencies.

It’s important to note this proposal is, indeed, only a proposal and that it asks many questions. Like all our rulemakings, the public has the opportunity to comment on the proposal over a period of months once a proposal is voted by the full Commission. We will not make a final decision before carefully reviewing those public comments.

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FCC Releases New Incentive Auction Repacking Information

by Julius Knapp, Chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology
July 22, 2013 - 05:23 PM

Today, the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force released a Public Notice that seeks input on certain data and updated computer software relevant to the repacking component of the upcoming incentive auction. 

Repacking is one of three major components of the FCC’s incentive auction, along with the reverse and forward auctions.  It refers to the process of reassigning broadcast TV channels to free up contiguous blocks of spectrum for mobile broadband use.

The notice and accompanying materials released today includes the results of a preliminary analysis of whether any particular television station could be assigned or reassigned to particular channels in the incentive auction repacking process, consistent with statutory and other requirements.  This information and analysis will permit broadcasters to validate the accuracy of the information regarding their stations or facilities contained in the FCC’s databases, to ensure that the staff has correctly identified all relevant constraints on repacking.  It also provides an opportunity for broadcasters to evaluate the range of channels to which they could be repacked consistent with the requirements of the Spectrum Act and the Commission’s rules if they are not a “winning bidder” in the incentive auction.

 This release was driven by the Commission’s continuing focus on transparency and desire to receive input from all interested parties.  Over the coming weeks and months, the public will have the opportunity to use this information, along with additional elements of the repacking process that we intend to make available, to better understand and to provide feedback on the work that our engineering and auction design experts have been doing.  Those additional elements include how we will select bids, how we will assign channels, and algorithms for carrying out these and other elements of the repacking process.

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Spectrum Available for Mobile Broadband How the U.S. Stacks Up and Challenges Ahead

February 26, 2013 - 05:32 PM

Today the United States is recognized as a leader in mobile technology, including commercial deployments of LTE and development of mobile operating systems.  This leadership depends on our continuing to make additional spectrum available for licensed mobile broadband and unlicensed uses, particularly as other countries are also focused on making additional broadband spectrum available.

Today we are releasing a white paper that compiles information on the status of licensed and unlicensed spectrum resources in the United States and selected countries around the globe, which also realize the importance of additional mobile broadband spectrum, and are taking steps to make more available.   The countries selected for this analysis were based in part on data availability.  Future updates of the paper may include additional countries.  Fueled by the skyrocketing demand for mobile data services, there has been a lot of interest in understanding what spectrum is available for mobile broadband networks around the world, and how the situation in the United States compares to other countries.  While much information about global spectrum resources is publicly available, getting a complete grasp of the spectrum availability picture around the globe can be daunting.  Various conditions and unique issues often arise regarding different frequency bands in individual countries:  for example, frequencies may be available, but only for use in certain geographic areas; or there may be restrictions on spectrum use.  In addition, different sources may use different definitions, so a frequency band might be considered “currently available” according to one source but not another, resulting in different bottom lines. 

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Spectrum Task Force Poised to Drive the Implementation of the National Broadband Plan's Spectrum Agenda

April 26, 2010 - 04:45 PM

By Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, and Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

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