Unlicensed devices have evolved from a minor Federal Communications Commission sideshow to a multi-billion dollar industry essential to consumers and businesses alike. Current products dependent on unlicensed use of spectrum include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, automobile keyless entry, ZigBee industrial controls, surveillance devices, RFID tags for building entry and automatic toll collection . . . The list expands every day.
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC attorneys have long played a central role in moving these industries forward. We obtained the FCC rules that authorize the current versions of Wi-Fi, were instrumental in the approval of ultra-wideband devices, and are working toward new generations of unlicensed industrial radar. We have helped many individual manufacturers and marketers of unlicensed devices to navigate the FCC rules and, when needed, to have those rules waived or amended.
The FCC’s rules governing unlicensed spectrum use are taking on a new role as a test bed for innovative technologies. Licensed spectrum tends to be either expensive (when purchased at auction) or subject to stringent technical rules geared to legacy technologies. The zero cost of unlicensed spectrum and the non-specific rules in many bands provide a welcoming environment for new radio-based applications.