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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

24th Anniversary of
FCC ISM Band Spread Spectrum Rules:

Basis of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Many Other Products

Today is the 24th anniversary of the FCC ISM band unlicensed rules - now codified as §15.247. These rules are the basis for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, most of the cordless phones sold in the US, and a variety of other useful products.

These rules were an FCC initiative, begun during the Carter Administration and finished during the Reagan Administration to remove barriers to new technologies. (See George Mason University conference on history of these rules.)

While many people think FCC's role is to be responsive to industry, all major industry players at the time opposed these rules. Thus the public interest is not always the direct interest of the largest parties involved.

From these humble beginnings, various firms, both startups and established manufacturers, developed a wide variety of products to serve the public. Many of these products have changed our daily lives.

I am reminded of a quote from Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince:

"As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”

24 years ago today, FCC did not foresee all the §15.247 products that would result, but it surely enabled them. It listened to but was not blinded by the comments from existing regulatees opposing change. Hopefully the new FCC can continue to look for technologies blocked by anachronistic regulation and enable them.

May 9, 1985 FCC discussion of Report & Order

on spread spectrum technology - world's first

general authorization of civil spread spectrum/CDMA!

[Click on photo for video of FCC discussion]

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