Utilities Want Court to Intervene in FCC 6 GHz Order

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Last week, the NAB asked a federal court to intervene and make the FCC rescind its order to allow unlicensed use across the entire 6 GHz band due to interference concerns. Now, utilities are asking the court to vacate the 6 GHz order too.

The Utilities Technology Council (UTC), joined by the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the Commission’s April decision. Broadcasters, public-safety organizations and utilities are concerned about potential interference to incumbent users in the band.

Portions of the 6 GHz band are heavily used by licensed incumbents such as utilities, point-to-point microwave links, the Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Cable Television Relay Service. Electric, gas and water utilities rely on the 6 GHz band for their communications that support day-to-day, routine reliability, emergency response and storm restoration, and smart meters, according to UTC. 

The FCC wants to free-up more spectrum for future wireless use. It proposes to allow unlicensed devices to operate using an automated frequency coordination system to avoid causing harmful RF interference from unlicensed devices to licensed users, Inside Towers reported.   

 The latest petition asks the court to determine that the agency acted unlawfully by permitting new devices into the band without sufficient safeguards to prevent harmful interference, according to Mission Critical Communications. In addition, the petition argues the agency failed to consider numerous studies demonstrating the high interference risk the rule posed and asks the court to vacate the decision.

Any disruption or interference stemming from new unlicensed users will likely degrade and diminish these, potentially threatening life and safety, UTC and the other organizations said. “From the beginning of this proceeding, we urged the Commission to fully vet and test its theories and assumptions that it could safely permit unlicensed users into a band already heavily used for public safety and essential electricity, water and natural gas services,” said UTC President/CEO Sheryl Riggs.

“Existing users of the 6 GHz spectrum band offered study after study demonstrating that the FCC’s plan was flawed and needed to be revised so as to allow a thorough analysis to prove these new devices could operate without causing interference,” Riggs explained. “We do not take this step lightly but feel that taking this matter to court is in the best interest of our members, our industry, and the public.”

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