As our use of wireless devices increase, concerns about how radio frequencies are currently allocated naturally will arise. Smartphones, bluetooth speakers, Wi-Fi routers, smart appliances are all typically competing for the same radio space, leading to the inevitable increase in spectrum congestion and noise.
In a document released last week, The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked for public input precisely on this topic. The changes to the radio spectrum noise floor is due to the increasing number of devices that emit radio energy. The FCC admits that, currently, they have limited data to support their evidence of the increasing noise floors so they will need the public's help.
They briefly outline the types of devices that generate radio noise.
There are the unintentional radiators. These devices generate radio energy for internal use but are not designed to emit them. Portable electronic devices and computers fall in this category and FCC regulations are in place to limit the radio energy of these devices.
Next are the licensed and unlicensed radiators. Bluetooth devices, wireless routers, TV and radio stations and microwave ovens are examples of these devices and their radio emission is also regulated.
The third type, which appears to be the area of concern in the study, are incidental radiators. These devices are not designed to generate or emit radio energy but they still emit RF by virtue of their operation. Power lines, electric motors, power supplies and transformers are main examples of this type. The FCC states that there is little regulation against the RF noise generated by these devices.
The FCC document then lists a number of questions concerning sources and locations of noise problems, evidence of increases to the noise floor in the past 20 years and how a radio noise study could be conducted.
It's particularly telling that they specifically ask what efforts could be taken to improve the noise generated by incidental radiators if they are indeed a concern. Increased regulation of these devices may be in the pipeline depending on the quantitative evidence collected in the study.
If you want to help the FCC in this study, you could submit a comment via an electronic flier in their Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) located here. Search for Proceeding No. 16-191 to file your comment and upload related documents.
If you prefer a paper filer instead, instructions for mailing the filer to the FCC Headquarters are provided in the document as well.
The comment filing deadline is August 11, 2016 so act fast if you want to contribute to the study.