Spread Spectrum Is Good—But It Doesn’t Obsolete NBC v. US!
This short note addresses a popular misconception—that new technologies such as spread spectrum have eliminated the problem of radio interference. That is false. Spread spectrum is a great technology, but it does not eliminate the problem of interference. Similarly, although some have asserted otherwise, signals below the noise floor can create interference.
We first show that a number of authors have embraced these misconceptions in works addressing public policy. Briefly, a basic argument of these papers is: (1) spread spectrum eliminates the problem of interference; (2) the Supreme Court’s decision in NBC v. US upholding the Communications Act of 1934 depended critically on the perception that radio interference is unavoidable; (3) given (1) the Court’s decision was wrong and must be revisited.
We then provide a nonrigorous (no equations!) explanation of the nature of interference created by spread spectrum signals or by signals below the noise floor. We also offer a few pointers to the technical literature for those who wish to understand these issues in more depth.
Science and Technology Law
Date of this Version
Charles L. Jackson, Raymond L. Pickholtz, and Dale N. Hatfield, " Spread Spectrum Is Good—But It Doesn’t Obsolete NBC v. US!" (August 9, 2005). bepress Legal Series. bepress Legal Series.Working Paper 1327.