FCC Announces New Program for Experimental Licenses
Monday, April 17, 2017 | Comments

The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology announced that parties may now apply for new program experimental licenses permitting license holders to register proposed experiments on a new FCC license notification system and proceed with proposed experiments if no objections are received.

This new type of experimental license allows greater flexibility for parties — including universities, research labs, health care facilities and manufacturers of RF equipment — to develop new technologies and services while protecting incumbent services against harmful interference. The program license registration system continues the FCC’s commitment to encourage research and development.

Under the existing program, experimenters are limited to a single experiment or a series of closely related experiments. Licensees wishing to vary any of their authorized parameters are required to apply for new or modified licenses.

In 2013, the Commission adopted rules establishing new program licenses to further encourage experimentation and innovation by simplifying the application and management of experimental radio service (ERS) licenses — specifically the program license, the medical testing license and the compliance testing license. Qualified institutions may conduct testing for multiple non-related experiments under a single authorization within a defined geographic area under control of the licensee and where the licensee has institutional processes to manage and oversee experiments. Institutions benefit by the elimination of regulatory delay and uncertainty thereby expediting introduction of new products to the marketplace.

New York University (NYU) WIRELESS and the University of Colorado Boulder helped test, debug and provide feedback on the web-based licensing system, a statement from NYU WIRELESS said. NYU WIRELESS became the first applicant to receive the program experimental license using the new portal.

"The license will allow the center to do cutting-edge work throughout the spectrum, not just at frequencies critical to 5G, but also far beyond," said Theodore (Ted) Rappaport, founding director of NYU WIRELESS. He said that the FCC's new program experimental licensing process is perhaps the first like it in the world, and it promises to reduce the waiting time and burden for innovators to experiment in the radio spectrum, allowing experimenters to focus on science and engineering while giving a rapid, 15-day turnaround on experimental license decisions in most cases.

"We believe massively broadband mobile communications will eventually migrate to both lower and higher frequency ranges, and we are honored that the FCC chose NYU to be one of two academic institutions to test the portal for usability and accuracy to help pave the way for our wireless future," Rappaport said. "The efficiency and transparency of the new FCC experimental program portal will aid institutions like ours — as well as governmental spectrum holders and corporations — to accelerate experimentation of new systems and devices that will eventually become part of our interconnected world.

The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology grants more than 2,000 requests for experimental licenses annually, to more than 600 universities, researchers, businesses, and other innovators, said Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology.

"This year alone we have over 35 experimental licenses that have a 5G focus or are in the bands raised in the Spectrum Frontiers proceeding," said Knapp, referring to the FCC’s 5G rules.

The notification system is available at https://apps2.fcc.gov/ELSExperiments/pages/login.htm.

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