FCC Seeks Comment on Court’s Remand of 6 GHz Rules
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 | Comments

The FCC is seeking comment in relation to the remand of its unlicensed 6 GHz rules by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In April 2020, the FCC adopted rules allowing for unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band, leading to public backlash from public-safety and critical infrastructure groups who said that such use could lead to harmful interference to key critical communications systems.

In January 2021, multiple public-safety, industry and critical infrastructure groups filed petitions for review with the appeals court asking for the court to remand the rules back to the FCC for consideration.

In December, the court rejected a majority of the claims brought before it but granted review of one claim brought by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). The NAB argued that because mobile operators commonly work indoors, the provisions of the new rules that restrict low-power routers to indoor operations “offer little protection” to mobile licenses. The NAB said that the commission should reserve a small portion of the band for mobile licensees.

The court ruled that the FCC never addressed the NAB’s concerns about similar interference that had occurred in the 2.4 GHz band and said that although the commission cited a study that supported its conclusions that the 6 GHz rules protect mobile operators, the study did not refute any of the NAB’s claims about interference in the band.

However, the court chose not to fully vacate the order, noting that the commission might be able to explain why “its experience in the 2.4 GHz band supports its ability to protect licensed mobile operators from harmful interference.” The court also concluded that fully vacating the order would be very disruptive since devices had already been deployed in the band.

The FCC released a public notice seeking comment on the NAB’s arguments in the proceeding. Specifically, it is seeking insight on broadcasters’ experiences in the 2.4 GHz band, how that experience relates to the kinds of contention-based protocol operations set up for low-power indoor devices in the 6 GHz band and whether that 2.4 GHz experience warrants “reservation of a portion of the 6 GHz band for mobile indoor operations” or any other modifications to the commission’s 6 GHz rules.

The FCC noted that it is seeking comments only on the court’s remand and not on the any other aspects of the 6 GHz rules.

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