FCC’s Updated Experimental Licensing System Open For Business

The Commission’s updated experimental licensing system is now accepting new applications. Each year the Office of Engineering and Technology grants more than 2,000 experimental licenses, according to OET Bureau Chief Julius Knapp. Many of those are now supporting work towards the introduction of next-gen 5G services.

The Commission previously revised the rules to provide more flexibility to conduct experiments through new “program licenses” designed to streamline the process for institutions that regularly file for experimental applications. Examples are universities, R&D development companies, and medical institutions.

Now, new program licenses include “Innovation Zones.” These are geographic areas the FCC can define and make available for experiments, according to the agency’s announcement.  

Qualified institutions can conduct testing for multiple non-related experiments under a single authorization within a defined geographic area that is under control of the licensee and where the licensee has institutional processes to manage and oversee experiments. “The FCC’s move launches a new tool that will hopefully reduce the wait time for government authorization to do cutting-edge research and experimental transmissions,” said Theodore Rappaport, founding director of NYU WIRELESS and the David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical Engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. This school, along with the University of Colorado, Boulder conducted beta trials of the system and gave the FCC suggestions for improvements.

Apply for an experimental program license using the existing Form 442 application for experimental licenses. Once approved, licensees may go on the new “Experiments Notification System” website and begin registering new program experiments.

April 19, 2017      

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