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FCC Pai: Study on 24 GHz Weather Data Issue is Fundamentally Flawed

FCC chair Ajit Pai told the Senate Wednesday the FCC remains confident that its freeing up of 24 GHz spectrum in the recent auction will not threaten important weather data collection, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has suggested it could.

That came in a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing Wednesday (June 12).

NOAA has suggested much higher interference protection is needed, while Pai said that the study NOAA is citing for that position is fundamentally flawed.

Related: FCC Launches Latest 5G Auction

He said that is because the 5G technology that will be employed in the band is a "rifle shot" not a "shotgun blast." He also said the study assumed base stations and devices would be using spectrum simultaneously, which was impossible, and said that the spectrum for 5G and the spectrum for passive weather sensors was separated by 250 MHz.

Pai said that if the Department of Commerce (of which NOAA is a division) view that a higher interference standard was needed were to prevail, not only would that 24 GHz spectrum be unusable domestically, but it could affect international 24 GHz standards.

When pressed, Pai went further, saying the Department of Commerce has been blocking and undermining the FCC's efforts "at every single turn," and has gotten worse since former National Telecommunications & Information David Redl resigned.

Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said that applied not just to 24 GHz but other millimeter wave bands, where the commission has been pressed to test and retest. 

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.