Congressmen tell FCC to 'proceed with caution' before approving TLPS for Globalstar

Two members of Congress who co-chair the Congressional Hearing Caucus sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the FCC should "proceed with caution" before allowing Globalstar to offer services using Terrestrial Low Power Services (TLPS).

Rep. David McKinley, (R-West Virginia), and Rep. Mike Thompson, (D-California), said that as members of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, they are "extremely concerned" over the unintentional consequences that could occur if Globalstar's proposal is not thoroughly reviewed.

"Specifically, the FCC is requested to verify that any proposed rulemaking authority should contain sufficient technical data to demonstrate that any change will not unduly harm the availability of Bluetooth for hearing assistance devices," the lawmakers wrote. "Currently, wireless technology allows individuals with hearing loss to connect their hearing aids or other assistive listening devices to Bluetooth technology through their smartphones. Allowing companies to enter a new section of the wireless band could needlessly impact customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. The federal government should not stifle new and emerging innovations in order to benefit one particular company or industry."

They also touched on a point that the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) has raised about the need for actual tests versus demonstrations. "Given the innovativeness of Bluetooth technology, it is imperative that actual testing take place to determine the security of the proposed technology," the lawmakers said.

Globalstar continues to lobby the FCC for permission to offer TLPS, emphasizing that it will be a good neighbor to other licensed and unlicensed services. It has proposed a network operating system (NOS), which promises to provide a rapid-response platform for operators of licensed and unlicensed services and mitigate inference "in the unlikely event that it occurs."

HIA and others argue that adequate testing has not been done and that testing should be done in places that are loud and where many people gather, such as airports, convention centers and trade shows, hospitals and hotels where people who use hearing aids are most in need of their assistance.

Earlier this year, Chairman Wheeler responded in a letter to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Globalstar's home state of Louisiana, who submitted a letter in support of Globalstar's petition for rule changes that would permit it to deploy TLPS in the 2.4 GHz band. Wheeler said Globalstar's petition raises "complex technical questions" and the record in the proceeding demonstrates significant concerns on the part of other in-band and adjacent band spectrum users and licensees over potential interference. He reviewed some of the activities the FCC has been involved with in the proceeding, including demos last year at the FCC's own facilities.

For more:
- see this letter

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