Paving the way for a number of public safety, business, and consumer applications, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorized the marketing and operation of a limited range of products based on ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless technology. Possible applications, as outlined in the FCC's First Report and Order, comprise short-range, high-speed data transmissions and radar imaging of objects buried underground or behind walls.

The UWB devices and appropriate frequencies covered in the FCC's order include ground-penetrating radar systems (below 960 MHz or within 3.1 to 10.6 GHz), wall-imaging systems (below 960 MHz or within 3.1 to 10.6 GHz), through-wall imaging systems (below 960 MHz or within 1.99 to 10.6 GHz), medical systems (within 3.1 to 10.6 GHz), and surveillance systems (within 1.99 to 10.6 GHz).

Also, the order provides for the operation of vehicular radar systems in the 24-GHz band. The FCC has approved the use of a wide variety of other UWB devices, such as high-speed home and business networking devices within the 3.1- to 10.6-GHz band.

UWB units work by utilizing very narrow or short-duration pulses that result in very large, or wideband, transmission bandwidths. They can operate using spectra occupied by existing radio services without causing interference.

For more information about the FCC's report, go to www.fcc.gov.