Utilities Organizations Petition for Review of 6 GHz Unlicensed Use
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 | Comments

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 FCC’s April 2020 decision that opened up the 6 GHz spectrum band to unlicensed use.

In April, the FCC adopted rules that allow for unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band. Many public-safety organizations and utilities have expressed concern about potential interference to incumbent users in the band.

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

Utilities and public-safety entities use the 6 GHz band for mission-critical communications; any disruption or interference stemming from new unlicensed users will likely degrade and diminish these critical communications, potentially threatening life and safety, UTC and the other organizations said.

Despite numerous reports and submissions demonstrating the need for the FCC to act deliberately and carefully with this proposal, the commission in its April 2020 decision approved an aggressive plan that will allow millions of new devices into the 6 GHz band without any proof or evidence that existing critical-infrastructure and public-safety communications will not be disrupted, the 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 and 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. 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.”

The utilities organizations’ challenge to the 6 GHz rules are not the first legal challenges to the FCC’s new rules. The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International filed petitions for stay and reconsideration of the rules, and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and AT&T Services challenged the rules in the same U.S. court of appeals as UTC..

Find the petition for review here.

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On 7/30/20, Jim Couprie said:
As a Canadian RF Engineer we are worried that unlicensed radios will be imported into Canada and used without any protection for the existing microwave networks.


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