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Mobile

Satellite radio calls off wireless complaint

Two satellite radio stations are no longer trying to get the FCC to muzzle the transmissions of the growing number of wireless networks in homes and offices using the 802.11 standards.

Two satellite radio stations are no longer trying to get federal regulators to muzzle the transmissions of the growing number of wireless networks in homes and offices using the 802.11 standards.

Satellite radio stations and 802.11 wireless networks both broadcast their signals on radio waves separated by only a small buffer. So far, that buffer has kept the millions of 802.11, or Wi-Fi, networks from interfering with radio broadcasts by radio broadcasters Sirius Satellite Radio or XM Satellite Radio.

A representative for Sirius Satellite on Friday said the company had withdrawn a petition to force controls on 802.11 signals, but she did not comment further. An XM representative declined immediate comment.

Last year, the radio companies told the Federal Communications Commission they didn't think the relative calm would last and asked the agency to step in. Within a few years, they said, interference from the huge number of people using Wi-Fi's signal will bleed through that buffer and snarl their signals, blasting listeners with the kind of hissing, popping and humming that overwhelms a radio receiver placed too close to a cell phone.

To keep that from happening, Sirius and XM had asked the FCC to consider imposing more regulations on Wi-Fi makers, including forcing them to put some controls on these spurious signals. The FCC is not required to act upon their request.

It's a fact of life that radio signals can't be as tightly controlled as a signal traveling through a wire. Bits of signals are always straying, and as more people hook up Wi-Fi networks, there will be more of these "spurious" signals, enough to breach the buffer between the two, Sirius Satellite Radio co-founder Robert Briskman said during earlier interviews.

But Wi-Fi proponents, including gear makers and network operators, don't believe there will ever be an interference problem, so they believe they shouldn't have to face more regulations or add something to their equipment that could increase the cost.