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FCC Issues Warning to U-NII Device Operators after Interference with San Juan Weather Station

On August 22, 2019, the FCC issued an enforcement advisory in regard to several companies' interference with the Federal Aviation Administration's terminal doppler weather radar station in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

According to investigations under the Enforcement Bureau, interference was caused by outdoor wireless devices, in particular, those operated by wireless internet service providers (WISPs) to provide point-to-point broadband connectivity.

The FAA uses the weather radar station in San Juan, which operates in the 5.60 - 5.65 GHz band, to inform pilots of wind shear and other hazardous weather conditions near airports in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico. Any interference to the weather radar station could pose serious and/or fatal consequences to those operating and flying on affected aircraft.

The FCC proposed three separate $25,000 fines against Boom Solutions, Integra Wireless, and WinPR for employing Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices. Each of the three companies disabled the Dynamic Frequency Selection feature, a required feature that would have mitigated interference between the devices and the weather radar station in San Juan. In addition, the unlicensed devices, which were located near the radar station, were configured in a manner that did not adhere to the FCC's Part 15 rules.

According to the rules delineated in Part 15:

  • Operators, manufacturers, and marketers of U-NII devices operating in or capable of operating in the 5.25 GHz – 5.35 GHz and 5.47 GHz – 5.725 GHz bands must certify such devices under Part 15, subpart E.

  • U-NII devices operating as a master device in the 5.25 GHz – 5.35 GHz and 5.47 GHz – 5.725 GHz bands must enable the Dynamic Frequency Selection radar detection feature.

The Dynamic Frequency Selection feature allows U-NII devices and government radar stations to share the same spectrum. When this feature is enabled, the device will seek radar signals within the spectrum and select a new channel to occupy so as not to interfere with radar stations.

The FCC cautions operators, manufacturers, and marketers that using an uncertified U-NII device or a certified U-NII device in a manner inconsistent with equipment certification is a violation of the FCC's rules. According to the FCC, an operator may not modify a device's radio frequency capabilities if:

  • Doing so disables the Dynamic Frequency Selection feature or

  • Allows the device to operate in a manner inconsistent with equipment certification.

To comply, the FCC reminds manufacturers and retailers to employ the Dynamic Frequency Selection feature and to prohibit software configurations that allow users to disable this feature. For many devices, this feature is automatically enabled when the U.S. country code is configured. In addition, the FCC warns operators of U-NII devices that they must not only comply with Part 15 rules, but they must also accept interference from licensed devices. For testing to the FCC's Part 15 rules, contact us today. Rhein Tech Laboratories offers a variety of testing and design services to meet the individual needs of our clients. We offer unbeatable prices, flexible scheduling, and an engagement-driven method that ensures communication is a top priority. To read the official advisory, click here.

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