FCC Won't Stay 6 GHz WiFi Order

The FCC has denied petitions by public safety and utility organizations to stay its decision to open up the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed WiFi use pending judicial review.

In an order issued Thursday, from Ronald Repasi, acting chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology, the FCC said that neither the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) nor the Association of PublicSafety Communications Officials-International, Inc (APCO) had shown they were likely to win their case on the merits, had not shown their members would suffer irreparable harm absent a stay, had not shown that others would not be harmed by a stay, or that the stay was in the public interest, all of which boxes need to be checked to earn a stay.  

Both are seeking court review of the FCC's order. 

OET pointed out that the FCC had taken two-and-a-half years to come up with a way to accommodate shared use of the band, and was under pressure from Congress to free up more spectrum for unlicensed. It had reviewed over 150 comments, including from APCO and EEI, before making its decision on a way forward, OET pointed out. 

"We find that both APCO and EEI have failed to demonstrate that the extraordinary equitable relief of a stay is warranted," it concluded. OET pointed to the deference courts generally accord FCC technical judgments as one reason APCO and EEI were unlikely to succeed on the merits. 

The FCC voted unanimously April 23 to allow the entire 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band to be shared with unlicensed WiFi, the FCC's latest move in freeing up more spectrum for connecting 5G in-home devices--video streaming, video calls--and connecting IoT devices to the internet.   

Related: NCTA, OTI Oppose 6 GHz Recon Petitions 

While APCO withdrew its petition for reconsideration at the FCC it did not withdraw its stay petition. The FCC said the former arguably mooted the latter, but it would address APCO's arguments as well as EEI's. 

"OET made the right decision today to deny the petitions of EEI and APCO to stay the FCC’s 6 GHz Order," said Louis Peraertz, VP of policy at the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). "The Commission made a thorough examination of the 6 GHz proceeding, which was open, diverse and robust, and properly chose not to require AFC for low power indoor devices or location-accuracy requirements for standard-power access points to define exclusion zones in the band...We look forward to the Commission’s resolution of the remaining issues which includes WISPA’s request that the agency allow standard-power access points used in fixed point-to-point applications to operate at higher power levels." 

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.