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NCTA: Broadcasters Have No Case Against Repurposing 6-GHz for WiFi

A woman using WiFi on a tablet
(Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

Cable operators said complaints from broadcasters about opening up the 6-GHz spectrum band for WiFi are “unfounded … untimely, unsubstantiated and irrelevant.”

NCTA–The Internet & Television Association made that argument in comments to the Federal Communications Commission on June 10 regarding unlicensed use of that band, comments prompted by a court remand of one part of the FCC's unanimous April 2020 decision to allow the entire 1,200 Megahertz of the 6-GHz band to be shared with unlicensed WiFi. The decision was at that time the FCC‘s latest move in freeing up more spectrum for connecting 5G in-home devices — video streaming, video calls — and connecting internet of things (IoT) devices to the internet. Cable operators and technology companies supported it.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a decision handed down last December, said the FCC‘s conclusion on the risk of harmful interference was just the sort of technical call to which the court owes “significant deference.” It rejected the broadcasters’ challenge, arguing TV stations had not provided a basis for their claim  the band could not be opened up without “a significant risk of harmful interference.”

But while the court denied the petitions to review in most respects, it did say the FCC had not sufficiently responded to a request from broadcasters that it reserve a sliver of the band exclusively for mobile licensees, so that aspect of the decision was remanded to the FCC for "further explanation."

NCTA said that explanation is easy. In its comments, it said the FCC should tell the court ASAP that broadcasters‘ unsupported assertions “do not alter the Commission’s conclusion that the risk of harmful interference to mobile indoor operations from unlicensed 6 GHz low-power indoor (LPI) devices is
insignificant.” ■

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.