FCC Moving Quickly on 6 GHz, No Decision Timeline Yet
Monday, August 19, 2019 | Comments

The FCC plans to move quickly on a decision on proposed changes to the 6 GHz band but officials declined to provide a timeline of when that decision might be made.

During a regulatory update at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conference last week, Michael Wilhelm, chief of the FCC’s public-safety licensing and policy division, said that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants the commission to move quickly on 6 GHz.

“We can’t say much on timing, other than we’re continuing to work on them,” said Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) Deputy Chief David Furth in response to a question about the timing for decisions on 6 and 4.9 GHz proposals.

In October, the FCC proposed allowing unlicensed use in up to 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band. Public-safety and other mission-critical users have expressed concern that allowing unlicensed use in the band could interfere with their critical communications.

“We will take all views into account and move quickly on it,” said Wilhelm.

The industry is also waiting for an FCC recommendation on how to increase use of the 4.9 GHz band. The FCC claims that public-safety band has been lightly used across the country, and the commission plans to release a recommendation on how to increase use of the band, Wilhelm said.

One of the issues with the band is that there is a limited choice of equipment, and 4.9 GHz gear is also expensive, Wilhelm said. The FCC is considering is allowing nonpublic-safety entities to share the band to establish economies of scale and create higher demand for 4.9 GHz products.

Wilhelm acknowledged APCO’s concerns about potential issues with frequency coordination in the spectrum if it is shared and said that the FCC is developing a recommendation on how the band can be shared while still supporting public safety’s mission, Wilhelm said.

Furth was also asked about the status of the UHF T-band. He noted that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recommending that Congress take action to allow public safety to keep the T-band instead of having the FCC auction the spectrum as required by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

Under that law, the FCC is required to auction the T-band spectrum by 2021.

“We’re mindful of that deadline, and the commission will do what it has to do unless Congress changes the law,” Furth said. “We have to follow the law.”

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