Remarks of Assistant Secretary Gregory L. Rohde
News Conference
January 18, 2001

Statement on Ultrawideband Test Results

This morning, I'm pleased to announce the results of our first phase of testing of the promising new ultrawideband technology. After that discussion, I also want to spend a moment talking about how we spent our time here at NTIA over the past year.

Ultrawideband technology is one of the most promising technologies of our time. It can be used for communications devices like wireless networks; remote sensing or tracking; and ground penetrating radars. And there are many applications that haven't been invented yet. The challenge at the moment is to see where this new technology fits with current services. Ultrawideband is fundamentally different from just about everything else that exists today. Most other radio communications technologies operate within a very narrow band of spectrum, and interference is avoided by frequency assignments. Ultrawideband, as the name implies, operates across a wide range of spectrum frequencies. Marrying these two systems is nothing short of merging two different paradigms.

Ultrawideband technology operates at low power levels using very narrow pulses. Analyzing the characteristics of this new technology and incorporating it into our existing spectrum management regime is no small feat.

NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management and our Institute of Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), located in Boulder, Colorado, have done groundbreaking work to attempt to better understand ultrawideband and its interaction with existing public safety and national security systems. Today, I'm announcing the results of the first part of our ultrawideband testing, dealing with devices other than Global Positioning System (GPS). The ITS lab and OSM are still conducting the study of ultrawideband devices and GPS .

We were provided with 25 assorted ultrawideband devices. We made detailed measurements on five of the transmitters which seemed to be fairly typical of the group. The devices were not selected based on the manufacturer. We used a simulator to replicate a wide range of ultrawideband characteristics in the measurements performed by ITS. For the purposes of these tests, we are not disclosing who made the devices we tested.

We tested these UWB devices against several Federal services. We did interference tests for three systems: Air Route Surveillance Radar (1240-1370 MHZ), Airport Surveillance Radar (2700-2900 MHZ) and Air Traffic Control Beacon System (1090 MHZ). In addition, our spectrum engineers developed some mathematical models based on the results of those tests to allow us to analyze another nine systems, including satellite and other radar systems.

Our conclusion based on these tests is that it there is a potential to operate ultrawideband devices in the 3 GHz-6 GHz range. Distance, pulse repetition frequency and power levels are the three major variables in the various scenarios that were tested. Some of the services in this area that will need further discussion are the fixed satellite services at 3.7 GHz-4.2 GHz; microwave landing services, at 5.03 GHz-5.091 GHz and Doppler weather radar, at 5.6 GHz-5.65 GHz.

The study being released today does not contain any policy conclusions. This study will form the basis of negotiations between NTIA and the FCC to develop a final rule that will permit the development and availability of ultrawideband technologies. The study results will be part of the FCC's proceeding and NTIA looks forward to working with industry and the FCC to develop policy determinations that will allow for the deployment of ultrawideband technologies and preserve public safety.

The issuance of this report will hopefully bring us one step closer to the establishment of a final rule that will advance ultrawideband technologies.

Let me stress that these tests apply only to non-GPS systems. The GPS tests will be concluded at the end of February.