Apple gets OK to conduct RF tests at HQ

Apple visitor center
The Apple Park Visitor Center opened in Cupertino last year. (Apple)

Apple has been granted FCC permission to conduct experimental RF tests at its Infinite Loop and Apple Park locations in Cupertino, California.

The grant is good from May 24, 2018, to June 1, 2023, so Apple would seemingly have plenty of time to obtain the engineering data relevant to the design and development of “consumer radio frequency devices.” Beyond that, there are few clues as to what Apple engineers are up to.

In its application, the company says it has received over 500 certifications for radio frequency equipment. Apple devices access spectrum in numerous licensed and unlicensed frequency bands. For example, iPhones use spectrum ranging from 13 megahertz (contactless payments via Apple Pay) to 5 gigahertz (802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO) and support more than 18 different LTE bands.

RELATED: Apple seeks permission to conduct RF tests in Cupertino, California

The application is tied to a program the FCC adopted last year that allows parties to use a new FCC license notification system and proceed with proposed experiments if no objections are received. It’s designed to allow greater flexibility for parties—including universities, research labs, healthcare facilities and manufacturers of radio frequency equipment—to develop new technologies and services while protecting incumbent services against harmful interference.

Last year, citing the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers Report and Order, Apple applied for and was granted (PDF) permission to conduct 28 and 39 GHz band tests in Apple-controlled facilities in Cupertino and Milpitas, California.

The company said those tests would help it assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers and contribute to 5G networks. Manufacturers supplying equipment for the tests included Rohde & Schwarz, A.H. Systems and Analog Devices.

RELATED: Apple, Facebook and more lobby for expanded unlicensed use of 6 GHz band

Apple is part of a diverse coalition that is trying to get the FCC to open a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and examine how the 6 GHz band could be opened for new unlicensed devices. The coalition, whose members include Facebook, Google, Intel and Qualcomm, among others, says demand for unlicensed spectrum is expected to grow enormously in the coming years, and they see the 6 GHz band as a unique opportunity to meet the needs.  

The 5.925-7.125 GHz (6 GHz) band is adjacent to current unlicensed U-NII bands. The technology manufacturers in the coalition have said they’re committed to delivering 6 GHz-capable products and services to the market in a timely manner.