News Release Details

Wi-LAN Continues to Press for OFDM Acceptance in Unlicensed Band


FCC Deems W-OFDM Too Spectrally Efficient for Unlicensed 2.4 GHz Band

Calgary, Alberta
September 15, 2000

Wi-LAN Inc. (TSE: WIN), an innovator of high-speed wireless data/Internet communications, has been notified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US regulatory body responsible for telecommunications, that it does not intend to certify OFDM systems for use in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band in the United States. Wi-LAN is appealing the FCC's ruling.  The ruling affects only a specific market segment that is effectively addressed by other Wi-LAN products, and will not have significant impact on Wi-LAN's overall business objectives moving forward. 

To date, the FCC has denied the use of OFDM technology in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, including Wi-LAN's patented W-OFDM technology. The Wi-LAN spread spectrum transmitter met the FCC's published technical test requirements. However, because OFDM technology minimizes the bandwidth necessary to transmit data, the FCC ruled that OFDM does not fit the definitions of a Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) System, and therefore is outside the intended use of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band as conceived by the FCC. 

"This is one of those hurdles that leading-edge technology companies face being first to market," said Bill Hews, President and COO, Wi-LAN. "W-OFDM enables efficient use of limited spectrum in the 2.4 GHz band; therefore, we continue to seek FCC certification. We will maintain our aggressive pursuit of lucrative market opportunities in the licensed and unlicensed frequency bands." 

The FCC ruling only affects Wi-LAN's marketing of W-OFDM products for the unlicensed 2.4 GHz frequency band in the United States.  Wi-LAN will continue to develop W-OFDM products such as the I.WiLL(TM) product line in the licensed MMDS and unlicensed UNII band, both of which offer potential for significant market growth. In addition, several other Wi-LAN products operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, including the recently announced Hopper Plus(TM) 120-24 wireless Ethernet Bridge built with Wi-LAN's patented MC-DSSS technology, have received FCC certification and are unaffected by the recent ruling. 

The spectrum is a limited resource; by increasing spectral efficiency, OFDM technology uses less bandwidth and thus is a better use of this limited resource. Wi-LAN's W-OFDM products have already been certified for use in the 2.4 GHz band by the relevant regulatory bodies in both Europe (ETSI) and Canada (Industry Canada). 

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