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FCC grants streamlined request process for experimental radio licenses on Virginia Tech Blacksburg campus

August 31, 2017

Virginia Tech’s Division of Information Technology was recently granted a Program Experimental License by the Federal Communications Commission. This establishes an “umbrella” over the main campus in Blacksburg for process of gaining individual experimental radio licenses to be significantly streamlined.  This is intended to increase opportunities for experiments for research and education in wireless communications and related areas at Virginia Tech.

Licensees can apply for any frequencies they wish to use except for the particularly sensitive “restricted bands” listed in FCC rules Section 15.205(a). An applicant needing to operate in these bands can instead apply for a conventional experimental license. Most frequencies above 38.6 GHz are also available, despite their all being denominated as “restricted,” except for those allocated to radio astronomy and a few others. Special requirements apply to frequencies used for commercial mobile (cell, PCS, 3G, 4G, and more), emergency notifications, and public safety. 

To request an experimental license for use on the main campus, individuals register a request at the FCC’s “Experiments Notification System” website available at https://apps2.fcc.gov/ELSExperiments/pages/login.htm.  

At least ten calendar days before each experiment, the licensee must post the following information on the FCC website: 

  • a narrative statement describing the experiment, including measures to avoid causing harmful interference to any existing service licensee in the proposed band,
  • contact information for the researcher in charge of the experiment, 
  • contact information for a “stop buzzer” point of contact – a person who can turn off the equipment if interference occurs, 
  • technical details including frequency, power, bandwidth, modulation, location, number of units, etc. and, 
  • for commercial mobile, emergency notification, and public safety frequencies, a list of potentially affected licensees.

Licensees in other services that fear interference from an experimental operation are expected to contact the experimental licensee with their concerns. Only the FCC can stop the experiment from proceeding, once the ten-day notice period has elapsed. Experiments that use federal (or shared federal-private spectrum) may need longer than ten days for coordination. 

For more information contact Jeff Crowder, crowder@vt.edu, 540-231-3900.  

 

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