FCC Requirements for In-Building Wireless Solutions

It is always important to have a way to communicate efficiently and effectively throughout any part of a facility. To sustain communications in any conditions, many buildings install amplifiers (signal boosters) that strengthen in-building wireless coverage. However, these amplifiers must be carefully deployed to follow FCC installation rules designed to prevent interference and meet compliance regulations.

In this article, the team at BearCom will review what role the FCC plays in regulating communications and what guidelines you need to consider when deploying in-building wireless solutions and amplifiers in your facility.

The FCC and DAS/BDA Solutions

The FCC, or Federal Communications Commission, is an independent government agency that is responsible for regulating radio, television, and phone industries. Plus, this agency regulates all interstate communications, such as wire, satellite, and cable.

The FCC has many responsibilities, including issuing operating licenses for radio and TV stations, as well as regulating two-way radio frequencies. The agency also sets rules for how different amplifiers need to be installed, including Distributed Antenna Systems (DASs) and Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDAs).

A Distributed Antenna System (DAS) brings wireless signals into a structure from the outside and sends those signals throughout the facility. A BDA is a signal booster that is part of the in-building communications solution that helps maintain two-way radio communications throughout a facility – even in difficult-to-reach areas such as stairwells, underground hallways, tunnels, parking garages, and more.

BDAs are programmed to boost Radio Frequencies (RF) to amplify in downlink and uplink paths, while increasing the RF signal in both directions. The FCC refers to these amplifiers as signal boosters, and has very specific federal rules on their operation. BDAs can be used with the facility’s own UHF and VHF radios, and in many localities are mandated for public safety coverage on bands 450, 700, and 800 MHz. In some facilities, repeaters are adequate to boost two-way radio coverage and BDAs may not be needed. BDAs are also available to boost cellular signals.

FCC Regulations for In-Building Wireless Solutions

The FCC has many standards for signal boosters in their Rules to Improve Wireless Coverage Through the Use of Signal Boosters. For example, your facility’s BDAs need to be FCC certified and meet the Network Protection Standard.

The Network Protection Standard is a series of technical precautions that minimize the chances of signal boosters interfering with wireless networks. This is to ensure that all lines of communication stay open in a building.

A frequent issue with in-building installation is inadequate isolation, or path loss, between the roof antenna and antenna nodes within a facility. When there is a path loss, the system will oscillate and cause interference. It is illegal to operate a signal booster that oscillates, so you’ll need to reduce gain settings to prevent this from happening. Otherwise, the FCC can impose fines or even confiscate equipment that causes interference.

In most cases, BDA gain settings should be adjusted and tested by a qualified radio technician. This wireless professional will use the industry standard formula for minimum antenna-to-antenna isolation: BDA gain + 15 dB (decibel). Using excessive gain will not improve performance, and may even present excessive noise to nearby receivers. Therefore, it is best to use the minimum reliable gain setting.

Contact Us to Learn More

When it comes to signal amplifiers, it is vital to adhere to guidelines set by the FCC, as well as local public safety ordinances. If you need help with your facility’s in-building wireless solutions, contact the experts at BearCom.

As the largest two-way radio integrator in the world, BearCom deploys hundreds of wireless communications systems every year all over North America. Plus, our team has developed deep levels of expertise with FCC regulations, public safety codes, P25 interoperability protocols, and key industry installation standards including DMR networking and R56 site installation certifications.

For a FREE consultation or to request a site-walk, call the BearCompliance Hotline at 844.883.8904.

Or submit an inquiry today.

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