NAB to FCC on 6 GHz: Can We Talk?

The National Association of Broadcasters is asking the FCC to convene a meeting between broadcasters and tech companies over how to open up the 6 Ghz band for unlicensed wireless broadband use by local radio area local network (RLAN) devices.

Companies like Broadcom, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Qualcomm argue that the FCC can allow RLANS to operate at power levels compatible with incumbent broadcast uses, levels that NAB counters could interfere with electronic newsgathering.

Related: Conservatives Push for Opening All of 6 GHz Band for Unlicensed

NAB said it is willing to share the band at suitable power levels, but not at the power levels the computer companies and WiFi companies are proposing. It had a new argument for protecting ENG. "[T]he Commission need look no further than the heroic work of our nation’s broadcasters during the current pandemic to understand the incredible value of 6 GHz to not only broadcasters, but to the country as a whole."

Related: Rosenworcel, O'Rielly Signal CTIA's 6 GHz Proposal Isn't Way to Go

"[T]he unlicensed uses under consideration in this proceeding are simply incompatible with mobile broadcast operations used for ENG – and no proposal advanced by any party to date will protect those mobile operations," NAB said.

In phone conferences with aids to FCC staffers, NAB said it should convene and moderate a discussion between the "RLAN group and NAB" to discuss the issue of potential harmful interference. "This discussion should be moderated by the Office of Engineering and Technology, with the Wireless and Media advisors for the commissioners free to attend and ask questions," said NAB.

The computer companies argue that setting the power levels too low could render the devices unreliable, with dropped connections, limits on the types of apps they could support, and limited battery capacity.

Rather than adopt the lower power levels broadcasters seek, the computer companies want the FCC to issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) proposing the higher power and seeking comment. 

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.