How much havoc is caused by unwanted radio signals? FCC tries to find out

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The US Federal Communications Commission is trying to figure out exactly how much trouble is being caused by radio noise. Many devices emit radio frequency energy that could interfere with radio services and increase the "radio spectrum noise floor," essentially the sum of all unwanted signals. The FCC is planning to study changes to the noise floor from human-made sources over the past 20 years. It's commonly believed that "the noise floor in the radio spectrum is rising as the number of devices in use that emit radio energy grows," but the FCC said it hasn't found much quantitative data to support this presumption. As a first step toward the FCC producing such a study, the commission last week asked the public for input on the proper design of the study and input on the problem itself. While there are already regulations limiting RF energy emissions, not all devices are regulated equally. The FCC inquiry notes that "incidental radiators" face little regulation and asks, "what sorts of government, industry, and civil society efforts might be appropriate to ameliorate the noise they produce?" "Radio spectrum noise is generated by many different types of devices. Devices that are not designed to generate or emit RF energy but do so as a result of their operation are called Incidental Radiators," the FCC said. "Most electric motors, light dimmers, switching power supplies, utility transformers and power lines are included in this category. There is little regulation governing the noise generated by these devices. Noise from such sources is expected to be minimized with 'Good Engineering Practices.'" Read More: Ars Technica

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