Experimental Radio Applications at the FCC

This summarizes a selection of applications for the Experimental Radio Service received by the FCC during May 2010. These are related to WiMAX, sensors, SAW devices, radio-location, ultra-wideband, white space, aircraft passenger communications, landslide monitoring, collision avoidance radar, mobile DTV, LTE, Inmarsat handsets, highway rock-fall monitoring, HF communications, spacecraft link characterization, and interference into broadband access.

  • Polytechnic Institute of NYU filed an application (with supporting exhibit) for experimental license to conduct a network research project using WiMAX on 2535-2540 MHz. This is part of the nationwide Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) project, a suite of infrastructure that will support experimental research in network science and engineering. GENI is supported by the National Science Foundation and managed by the GENI Project Office at BBN Technologies.
  • Mnemonics, Inc. filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for experimental license to operate in support of a research project that is to develop and demonstrate the viability of wirelessly extracting measured data from a network of passive surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor devices. This sensing technique is said to have several advantages over existing sensors, including no wired connections needed to extract data, no power requirements, operation up to 1000 degrees C., and sensor cost in-quantity in the tens of cents each. Operation will be on 915 MHz.


  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for special temporary authority to operate on 512-608 and 614-698 MHz. This is in support of research and evaluation of equipment that uses radio-location technology to precisely identify the location of firefighters and firefighter deployed sensors within a building.
  • Zimmerman Associates filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for special temporary authority to test prototype equipment that uses ultra wideband (UWB) technology developed by Time Domain Corporation. The equipment generates a signal that is pulse position modulated. The position of the modulated pulse varies randomly in time producing an emission that approximates Gaussian noise. The nominal center frequency of the signal is 4.4 to 4.5 GHz with the half power point bandwidth at 3.1 to 5.6 GHz. The radiated power of the device is below the general limits set forth in Part 15. This testing is in support of a U.S. Army contract.
  • The Moment Lab, University of California, Santa Barbara filed an application (with supporting exhibit) for experimental license to conduct experimentation regarding use of the TV white spaces. The Lab seeks to evaluate its solutions for modulation and coding scheme and channel width adaptation on long-distance (rural) white-space links. Operation will be on 512-608 and 614-698 MHz.
  • Panasonic Avionics Corporation filed an application (with supporting exhibit) for experimental license  to conduct ground testing in support of Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite (GCS) featuring the “eXconnect” Ku-band aeronautical mobile-satellite service (AMSS) system supporting wireless connectivity for devices such as GSM phones and Wi-Fi enabled laptops. Using low-power wireless transceivers onboard aircraft, GCS processes passenger communications for transmission to ground networks via satellite communications networks. Operation will be on various frequencies between 421 and 5825 MHz.
  • Ingegneria Dei Sistemi S.p.a. filed an application for special temporary authority to operate equipment for landslide monitoring as part of a demonstration for the US Geological Survey. The equipment is classified in Europe as a portable Short range Device (SRD) as it said to be compatible with primary services. Compliance testing of this equipment with the applicable requirements in the US, however, has not been yet been accomplished. Operation will be on 17.1-17.3 GHz.
  • DRS EW & Network Systems filed an application for special temporary authority to test identification, friend or foe (IFF) equipment that is being developed under a contract with Italian Air Force. Operation is between 1030 and 1090 MHz.
  • Boundary County Community Television filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for experimental license to operate using vacant spectrum in the television broadcast bands (white spaces) for the testing of fixed white-space devices. Boundary County Community Television is working jointly with Spectrum Bridge in investigating the usefulness of available white space (UHF/VHF) spectrum by providing “rural broadband access and support of video, sensor, low power AM broadcast radio using IP streaming, Wi-Fi access and medical records exchange.” The two companies will also be working with the U.S. Customs and Forest Service in application development and evaluation. Operation will be on 174-216, 470-608, and 614-698 MHz near Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
  • Magna Electronics filed an application (with supporting exhibits), apparently for experimental license (the application form is not available at this time). Magna Electronics says it is developing an automotive 77 GHz radar for use in the reduction of vehicular accidents through situational awareness. Research is underway to detect forward objects of interest that may cause an accident, to either warn the driver or autonomously brake the vehicle to reduce the impact energy. Magna also notes that over 1.8 million rear end collisions are reported in the United States annually; this is more than 1/3 of all reported accidents and is the leading accident type.
  • Dell Marketing filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for special temporary authority to conduct market studies that focus on consumer acceptability of mobile digital television transmitted using the ATSC A/153 standard. This authority applies only to reception devices.  Transmission will be made from regularly licensed TV stations. The reception devices to be used in the test (up to 1000 specially configured Dell Netbook computers) will include tuners for the reception of ATSC A/53 conventional DTV signals and ATSC A/153 mobile DTV signals but not analog tuners. Frequencies to be used include 54-72, 76-88, 174-216, and 470-698 MHz.

According to Dell, “The receivers at issue are not to be sold directly to the public. Instead,, the receivers are to be sold to Dell commercial customers who, as a result of the tests they are to conduct, will be able to provide feedback as to such issues as the field performance of the receivers, acceptability of the user interface, consumer expectations and acceptability of possible prices (e.g. “Would you be willing to pay _____ for this device, provided that it includes DTV/MDTV reception capability?”), consumer use data (hours per day of viewing, principle reasons for viewing, reasons for stopping viewing), and perceived value of the service.”

Dell also says “Half of the proposed units will be sold to a major multi-channel video programming provider for use in a test in which the provider will make the receivers available to selected consumers who agree to participate in the test. The others are to be made available for sale to broadcast television transmission equipment makers who will provide them to broadcast stations for demonstration and consumer feedback purposes in connection with the launch of mobile television service this summer. In both cases, a condition of Dell’s sale will be to provide Dell feedback that will assist Dell in both product design and marketing, including being able to set initial prices should the Commission agree ultimately to permit the widespread marketing of portable receivers without analog tuners that are designed for on-the-go reception and are powered primarily from batteries.”

  • Alcatel-Lucent filed an application (with associated exhibits) for experimental license to operate on various frequencies between 698 and 2155 MHz to evaluate LTE technology over-the-air. Specific tests are to include validation of call processing, handoffs, power control, and data scheduler algorithms.
  • Inmarsat Hawaii filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for experimental license to conduct technical demonstrations using new, pre-production Global Satellite Phone Service (“GSPS”) prototype handsets, test these handsets in connection with their production and the deployment of other parts of the GSPS network, and otherwise develop radio techniques, equipment, operational data and engineering data related to GSPS. Inmarsat Hawaii says that “GSPS will be a highly competitive offering in terms of hardware costs, airtime rates and service quality, with a strong combination of form and functionality that Inmarsat believes will change the landscape in the provision of the mobile satellite services. The requested experimental authority would facilitate the introduction of GSPS to the U.S. by enabling Inmarsat to develop the technical expertise to extend and enhance existing uses of L-band spectrum through the introduction of GSPS.”


  • Associated Air Center filed an application for special temporary authority to perform electromagnetic interference susceptibility tests to demonstrate that the use of on-board cell phones do not cause interference on any electrical equipment installed on the aircraft while on the ground. “A direct influence on the aircrafts navigation and communication systems is not expected, but a susceptibility investigation is considered neccessary [sic] as the electromagnetic field levels are in close vicinity of the signal source might raise to levels that cause interference. The testing will concentrate on demonstrating the electromagnetic compatibility of RF bands used for CDMA, GSM, PDC and UMTS cell phones within a aircraft environment [sic].” Operation will be on various frequencies between 410 and 2700 MHz.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton filed an application for special temporary authority to evaluate the RF performance of commercial IEEE 802.16e (Mobile WiMAX) equipment for United States Air Force Global Broadcast Service applications. Operation is to be on 2620.250-2628.500 MHz.
  • Raytheon Network Centric Systems filed an application for special temporary authority to test a Ground Surveillance Radar (GSR) system, intended to provide all-weather detection and tracking capability for facility/critical infrastructure and border security programs. Operation is to be on 3100-3500 MHz.
  • Vexcel, a Microsoft subsidiary, filed an application (with associated exhibits) for experimental license to demonstrate a specialized short range, low power trailer-mounted radar system that illuminates a rock wall next to a highway and maps the surface profile in detail. Vexcel says that this technique can be used to detect potential dangerous rockfalls that could damage vehicles and travelers on the adjacent highway. Operation is to be on 10.7-11.2 GHz.

As background, Vexcel says that in October 2007, it “made a presentation to the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHA) office proposing the use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology for the detection and monitoring of rock fall and landslides on steep slopes that border busy transportation corridors. Vexcel had previously demonstrated through software simulation that integrating the interferometric SAR data processing technique into a ground-based system would enable the measurement of surface displacements on the order of a millimeter at stand-off distances of up to several hundred meters. Since surface displacements are a precursor to rock wall failure, the ability to measure surface displacement over time yields a capability to predict wall failures. This predictive capability would enable transportation authorities to schedule mitigation activities during low traffic periods thereby minimizing the risk to life and limb of rock wall failures and significantly reducing their negative economic impacts.”

“To properly verify the system operation, Vexcel needs to measure several different types of rock formations. To do this, the system will be installed on a trailer which can be towed to each experimental site. A drawing depicting the trailer system is shown in Figure 1. Directional horn antennas are used to transmit and receive the radar’s radio frequency signal. The antennas are mounted on a linear rail system and are moved horizontally and vertically along the rails. The motion is such that the antenna pointing direction is not changed during operation. The horizontal rail allows for 5 meters of motion. The vertical rail allows for 1.6 meter of motion. The antenna’s highest position above the ground during operation is 2.6 meters.”



  • TWC Wireless, the wireless division of Time Warner Cable, filed an application (with supporting exhibits) for experimental license to test WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) equipment and applications over-the-air. These tests are intended to support system, application and device development, as well as quality assurance. Operation is to be on 2513-2535 MHz.
  • L-3 Communications Linkabit Division filed an application (with associated exhibits) for experimental license to conduct a series of experiments with HF and VHF multiband radio equipment. The purpose of the experiment is to confirm performance of the equipment against engineering specifications, characterize field performance of the equipment, and rehearse scripted equipment demonstrations in support of marketing activities. Operation is to be on various frequencies from 1.8 to 107.5 MHz. The communications will be primarily voice with very limited digital data. Also, encrypted (AES 256) and unencrypted communications will be evaluated. Upon successful conclusion of the experiments, the equipment will be offered for sale worldwide, subject to US export regulations.
  • Morehead State University filed an application for special temporary authority to operate a ground station and characterize the Mini-RF radar instrument, one of seven instruments on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The LRO is currently orbiting the Moon. The science team has a program requirement to characterize the transmit and receive paths of the Mini-RF instrument on a regular basis. The characterizations require one week of testing and repeated every 9-12 months. Operation is to be on various frequencies from 2370 to 7150 MHz.
  • Telcordia Technologies filed an application (with supporting exhibit) for experimental license to conduct testing on 495-505 and 525-535 kHz in support of deliverables under a Department of Defense research program for the Laboratory of Telecommunication Sciences. The project includes experiments to better understand vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to natural and man-made phenomena. In particular, Telcordia proposes to conduct experiments on the impact of radio frequency interference (RFI) into advanced communications services such as broadband access. It proposes to do this by running short term transmission experiments at a number of locations using conventional AM transmissions, but just below the commercial AM band to avoid interference with commercial broadcasts.

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