DOE Official Outlines Concerns with FCC’s Proposal for 6 GHz Unlicensed Use
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | Comments

The Department of Energy (DOE) expressed concerns with the FCC’s proposal to allow unlicensed devices in the 6 GHz band and said the commission should allocate dedicated spectrum for the energy and water industries.

Bruce Walker, assistant secretary of the Office of Electricity, said DOE has specific concerns regarding the use of the automated frequency coordination (AFC) system, which the FCC proposed to control interference issues in the band.

“A similar technology, known as dynamic frequency selection (DFS), was used to prevent interference to the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar system in the 5.8 GHZ band,” a Sept. 3 letter from Walker to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “However, our understanding is that DFS had numerous issues and failed to work correctly, to the point where the National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that the DFS system did not properly address interference in that band.”

The letter said that if the FCC moves forward with its proposed 6 GHz changes, adequate testing of AFC and other safeguards must be in place first. “The DOE National Laboratories have significant capability to evaluate potential interference scenarios, field test and make recommendations to improve the use of AFC,” he said. “We would encourage that the AFC be analyzed by the National Laboratories before it is placed into use.”

Walker also said the FCC should investigate a long-term solution for dedicated spectrum for critical infrastructure users in the energy and water sectors. “We respectfully request consideration of other spectrum bands (outside of the 6 GHz) that could be utilized to increase public Wi-Fi capabilities and not risk interference and thus the reliability to our nation’s power and water industries,” the letter said. “Or alternatively, we request establishing dedicated spectrum for the energy and water industries, with an appropriate funding mechanism to facilitate the relocation of the energy and water industries.”

The full letter is here.

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