“Every room, every house, every shade of noise
All the floors, all the walls, they all shake with noise
We can’t sleep, we can’t think, can’t escape the noise
We can’t take the noise, so we just make Noise”
Those whose musical tastes run toward the Country end of the spectrum may identify with the lyrics above from Kenny Chesney’s new song “Noise” as a social commentary about the constant barrage of information in our modern lives, with the overall effect of just increasing the noise level.
Similarly, rising noise levels in the RF spectrum have been a concern of wireless service operators for a number of years in a variety of spectral bands. To try to get a handle on quantifying this assumed rising noise level and make suggestions on what perhaps could be done about it, the FCC released a Public Notice on June 15 announcing a Technical Inquiry on the subject by the FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC). The FCC TAC is an advisory committee to the FCC, organized under the authority of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. While the TAC has had an advisory role at the FCC for well over a decade in various forms, the current instantiation of the TAC, chaired by Dennis Roberson from the Illinois Institute of Technology, was formed in 2010, comprised of an array of almost 50 technical experts in diverse fields, chartered to help the FCC identify important areas of innovation and develop informed technology policies.
In its Technical Inquiry the TAC “is investigating changes and trends to the RF spectrum noise floor to determine if there is an increasing noise problem, and if so, the scope and quantitative evidence of such problem(s), and how a noise study should be performed.” The TAC Technical Inquiry has been assigned an FCC docket number (ET 16-191) and will use the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) for collecting responses. However, this is an activity of the FCC TAC (specifically the RF Spectrum and Receiver Performance Working Group, of which the author is a co-chair), not the FCC itself.