WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission proposed Thursday to untangle the regulation of cordless consumer products and open the door to a new line of products that could include wireless stereo speakers, videocassette recorders and home computer systems.
The commission also proposed rule changes that could lead to smaller and less expensive cellular telephones, and enable cellular companies to provide secure communications and offer high-speed data transmission from computers.
The FCC's four sitting commissioners approved both proposals unanimously at their regular monthly meeting. The proposals will be open to public comment before the panel takes final action.
The agency is proposing to streamline certification of products that operate using small radio devices. FCC clearance is necessary to prevent the devices from interfering with licensed radio services.
Products specified in the current rules include remote-control units, garage-door openers, wireless microphones, cordless phones, security alarms and the anti-shoplifting tags attached to clothing in stores.
However, the list is restrictive, creating a pirate market for some products that now are illegal, said Bruce Franca, deputy chief engineer in the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology.
Getting certification for a product on the list takes around 90 days, but approval for a new product can take two to three years, he said.
"What we're saying is that what really matters is the interference," he said. "Under the proposal . . . as long as they (product sponsors) meet the technical rules, they can market whatever they want."
FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick said the proposal "provides a model for deregulation as to how we should approach technical regulation."
Franca said the commission has been approached by manufacturers who want to make wireless VCRs and stereo speakers.
On the cellular phones matter, the commission proposed relaxing technical rules to encourage cellular companies to use their assigned spectrum more efficiently, thus permitting more calls to be made on their system and additional types of services to be offered.
"All the spectrum has been allocated for cellular, so we're going to need efficiency" to accommodate a growing number of users, Commissioner James Quello said.