O’Rielly Energized Over Building Code Impact on Wireless Propagation

Has Pai’s support for working with DOE on issue

The FCC wants to work with the Department of Energy to address the issue of how new energy efficiency building codes impact wireless propagation in houses and buildings and what the government should do with that information in terms of wireless policy. 

In a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly said he had FCC chair Ajit Pai’s support for creating an interagency working group between the two agencies focus on the issue and solutions. 

“The explosive growth in wireless communications over the last many years has resulted in increasing interplay involving building codes, construction techniques and materials, and wireless communications coverage,” he wrote.  

O’Rielly said DOE’s involvement in setting building codes that boost energy and thermal efficiency in buildings and houses has impacted wireless signals near and within those. 

“Specifically,” he said, “higher energy efficiency requirements, construction techniques, and the use of certain materials, such as metal-coated windows, double-pane windows, and metal foil barriers, have increased what is known as building entry and exit loss (‘BEL’). 

He said the FCC and DOE could look at “the effects of model building codes on BEL; whether the building code-setting process should take into account the potential impact of various energy-saving techniques on BEL; and how this information can better inform architectural and building construction considerations in the future.” 

He also points out that given that the signals are weakened by the energy efficient measures, which are increasingly being adopted in building codes, “there is less risk of harmful interference from competing signals from inside and outside modern structures, which means there may be opportunities for more flexibility in certain wireless operations.”