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FCC proposes fines against 3 co.’s that interfered with FAA weather radar in P.R.

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced proposed fines and issued a formal industry warning related to devices that apparently caused interference to the Federal Aviation Administration’s terminal doppler weather radar station in San Juan.

The Enforcement Bureau proposed three separate $25,000 fines against wireless internet service providers Boom Solutions, Integra Wireless, and WinPR.

The FAA uses terminal doppler weather radar, operating in the 5.60 – 5.65 GHz band, to warn pilots of hazardous weather conditions that could affect — or even threaten —aircraft arriving at, or departing from, airports in the continental United States and in Puerto Rico.

The companies used Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure devices for point-to-point wireless broadband communication. Enforcement Bureau investigations revealed that outdoor wireless devices — particularly those operated by wireless Internet service providers or “WISPs” to provide point-to-point broadband connectivity — caused much of the interference.

“In each case, the companies apparently misconfigured the devices by turning off a required feature that would have prevented the devices from causing interference to the FAA terminal doppler weather radar station at San Juan International Airport,” the regulatory agency said.

“Interference to these weather radar stations, which are used to detect wind shear and other dangerous weather conditions, is potentially life threatening,” it added in a release.

In addition to the proposed fines, the Bureau’s Enforcement Advisory warned operators, manufacturers, and marketers of Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure devices that these devices must be certified under FCC rules. Such devices that operate in the 5.25 GHz to 5.35 GHz and 5.47 GHz to 5.725 GHz bands risk interfering with radar systems if not properly configured to share the spectrum.

The proposed actions, formally called Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, or NALs, contain only allegations that advise parties on how they have apparently violated the law and may set forth a proposed monetary penalty.

The Commission may not impose a greater monetary penalty in these cases than the amounts proposed in the NALs. Neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions in the NALs are final Commission actions.

“The parties will be given an opportunity to respond and the Commission will consider the parties’ submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve these matters,” it added.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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