FCC Awards License to the UltRa Lab
IMSC News story by Rick Keir
In a major step to move ultrawideband (UWB) radio technology forward, IMSC key investigator Dr. Robert Scholtz was granted an experimental license
by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in November to conduct tests outside the confines of the laboratory.
At the same time, several companies, including IMSC partner Time Domain of Huntsville, AL, were granted waivers to further experiment with the technology.
The license and waivers were the first approvals that the FCC has given for expanded use of new UWB technology.
"The FCC is giving all involved a chance to prove this new technology," said Scholtz, who is also Chair of USC's Electrical Engineering Systems Department and heads the UltRa Lab, which investigates UWB technology.
IMSC has been in the forefront of developing UWB technology, which uses pulses of radio energy rather than radio waves to transmit information wirelessly in a digital form, offering a broad range of possible applications, from wireless voice and high-speed data communications to advanced radar systems. Ultrawideband radio could offer extremely low-power communications systems that tend to penetrate physical objects, are almost immune to eavesdropping, can tolerate significant levels of interference, and can eliminate many forms of multipath fading.
In 1998, IMSC organized a workshop on UWB technology that served as a catalyst for focusing private industry concerns on restrictive regulations by the FCC. A working group of firms in the field was formed after the workshop and has been lobbying to change restrictive FCC regulation that has hindered research and commercialization of UWB systems.
Under the four-year license, Scholtz will report his results to the FCC every year. He plans to conduct propagation tests, ranging tests and radio communications experiments.
"The license allows us to transmit low-power UWB signals in a fairly complete variety of environments in the Los Angeles area since we can work anywhere within 24 kilometers (about 15 miles) around the USC campus. We can find out how the signals propagate in the mountains, fields, suburbs and the ocean," he pointed out.