The FCC is trying to figure out how much trouble unwanted radio waves really cause

cell towers radio
The radio spectrum is a mess of different waves surrounding us at all times. But just how much of a mess is it? That’s what the FCC is trying to figure out.

Many radio devices emit waves that could actually interfere with radio services, and the sum of all those interfering waves is called the “radio spectrum noise floor.” The FCC is trying to determine exactly how much that noise floor has changed from human-made devices over the past 20 years.

Many people believe that the noise floor is raised based on the number of devices emitting radio waves. However, the FCC says it hasn’t really found much data to support that idea, but it’s still in the very early stages of its study — so early, in fact, that it asked for public opinion on the parameters of what the study should be just last week.

There are regulations in place regarding how much RF energy devices can produce, but not all devices are regulated in the same way. Moreover, there are plenty of devices that aren’t made to emit radio waves, but do so anyway because of how they work — things like electric motors, light switches, power lines, and so on. These are called “incidental radiators.”

Then, of course, there are devices that are actually designed to emit radio waves, such as smartphones, Bluetooth devices, Wi-Fi routers, and so on. Despite being regulated, sometimes these devices emit waves outside of their specified frequencies, meaning that they contribute to a raised noise floor too.

After describing the idea for the study, the FCC also asked questions, such as what the major sources of noise are, what radio services are affected by a higher noise floor, and so on. At the end, it asked for ideas on how to conduct a study on RF energy noise. If you want to participate, you can submit responses here.


Apple is spending $1 billion to hire up to 15,000 new employees in Austin

Apple has announced a series of expansions across the U.S. -- including a massive expansion to the company's Austin campus that will see it spending $1 billion to accommodate for up to 15,000 new employees.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Digital Trends Live

Cryptocurrency investor Ian Balina sees a comeback for cryptocurrency in 2019

We chatted with crypto investor Ian Balina on what the future is for cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. He also gave us three things to look for when we are investing our own money.

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed

Looking for a few accoutrements to make your smartphone even better? If you, or someone you know, is a sucker for accessories, you'll want to check out our collection of quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed.

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.

The best Wear OS watches

There are a ton of different Wear OS watches out there, but which one's right for you? No matter what you're looking for from a smartwatch, here are the best Wear OS watches out there.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.