Comments on RF Noise Inquiry Shared With FCC TAC

WASHINGTON — Broadcasters continually lament the increase in RF noise in the environment. Why? Because it effectively limits a radio station’s reach. Just over a year ago, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology formed a Technological Advisory Council, an advisory group to the FCC operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, to investigate changes and trends to the radio spectrum noise floor to determine if there is an increasing noise problem, and if so, the scope and quantitative evidence of such problem(s), and how a noise study should be performed.

In response to the inquiry, a number of commenters identified common sources of RF noise and interference that they encounter, according to rcrwireless.com. Some of the feedback the FCC got from comments is seen below.

The CTIA comment on the noise floor inquiry said that “several different kinds of devices, including incidental radiators and unintentional radiators, may contribute to the noise floor by generating unwanted RF emissions. Incidental radiators, like electric motors, light dimmers, and power supplies, for example, are not designed to generate or emit RF energy, but do so as a result of their operation. Unintentional radiators, on the other hand, are designed to generate RF energy for internal use or send RF signals by conduction, but are not intended to emit RF energy. Examples of unintentional radiators include high efficiency lights, computers, and garage door receivers.”

LED lamps can cause interference. “The solution in most cases is to replace the lamp with a different brand that does not cause harmful interference. … The bottom line is that the interference is strong enough to affect a 700/800 MHz cellular base station,” said Pericle Engineering in its FCC comment. In the indoor environment, Pericle said that noise-like interference can come from fluorescent light ballasts, LED lamps, cable TV set top boxes, and a variety of consumer electronics devices, according to the same article.

Back in April of this year the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers warned the FCC that licensed and unlicensed wireless services are “entering a ‘world of pain’ due to increasing levels of radiofrequency noise,” according to this blog entry from NPSTC.org. The AFCCE “urged Chairman Pai to direct the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council to prioritize development of actionable recommendations to address this issue.” (From Radio World)

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