New Report Tracks Interference Under FCC’s Proposed 6 GHz Plan
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | Comments

A new report from several electric and water trade organizations provides the FCC with technical data about the impact to critical infrastructure industries (CII) operations if the FCC’s 2018 proposal to open the band to unlicensed use is adopted as proposed.

The study reviews the Houston metropolitan area and considers interference from both residential and outdoor Wi-Fi access points and for Wi-Fi adjacent channel emissions. It demonstrates that deployment of unlicensed wireless networks within the 6 GHz band as proposed in the FCC rule would cause all the point-to-point links in the Houston area to experience unacceptable levels of interference. Interference disrupts or delays transmissions being sent over wireless networks. For the energy and water utility industries, interference on our communications systems can cause operational problems.

Specifically, the study found outdoor standard-power devices and indoor low-power devices without automated frequency control (AFC) cannot be deployed in the Houston metropolitan area without impacting all point-to-point microwave links. Preliminary analysis of very low power (VLP) operations indicates that the potential interference from VLP operations has been significantly underestimated. Additionally, more comprehensive research is required to realistically assess the interference potential of VLP devices.

The study demonstrates the real-world risk from the current proposal to allow unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band, especially to the broad cross-section of the nation’s CII and public-safety users that depend daily on the 6 GHz band for essential and mission-critical communications, a statement said.

The FCC’s proposal has elicited a number of studies and analyses about the impact unlicensed operations could have to incumbent critical users in the band, as well as those from proponents of opening the band to unlicensed users. One 2019 engineering study commissioned by companies such as Apple and Facebook said that 6 GHz radio local area network (RLAN) operations will protect fixed service (FS) links from interference.

The Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, American Public Power Association, American Water Works Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Nuclear Energy Institute and the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) commissioned the report, which was prepared by consulting firm Roberson and Associates.

The full filing and study is here.

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