About 100 individuals, companies and organizations, from a broad array of RF users including broadcasters, equipment manufacturers, consulting engineers, radio astronomers, amateur radio groups (including the ARRK), and users of other spectrum services such as cellular, GPS and public safety communications. Many different noise sources were identified, such as power lines, modern lighting systems, and switching power supplies. Almost all of the respondents requested that the FCC undertake an official study and many called for more effective enforcement of current regulations.
A working group was formed, and in December 2016, they issued a report recommending that the FCC issue a Notice of Inquiry or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to resolve unanswered questions and take corrective action. A recent article in RadioWorld describes the recommendations further.
The article goes on to say that on April 11, 2017, representatives of the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers (AFCCE) met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to discuss the problem of the rising radio noise floor. The AFCCE noted that:
- There has been no systematic study of RF noise since the 1970s.
- Many radio services are being compromised due to the rising noise floor.
- “Internet of Things” system performance is suffering due to the background noise.
- The FCC should re-establish the random sampling program to test products for compliance.
- The FCC should stop turning a blind eye toward “at variance” practices.
They also pointed out that the FCC Interference Handbook for consumers was published in 1993 and is woefully out of date.
I’m pessimistic about this. I normally don’t get political on this blog, but this is an issue where technology intersects with politics, and in this political environment, I don’t see the FCC really tackling this issue. I really hope I’m wrong, though.