NCTA, OTI Oppose 6 GHz Recon Petitions

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association and New America’s Open Technology Institute have asked the FCC to proceed with freeing up the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed (Wi-Fi) devices and reject petitions to reconsider that decision filed by CTIA, Verizon and the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC).

The FCC voted unanimously April 23 to allow the entire 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band to be shared with unlicensed Wi-Fi, 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: NAB Says FCC Spectrum Plan Could Hurt ENG at Crucial Time

Among CTIA's concerns was that the FCC allowed low-powered (actually very low powered, or VLP) indoor and outdoor use without automated frequency coordination (AFC). It cited the potential interference with incumbents. Among those are utility companies and broadcast news gatherers, which have already sued the FCC over the decision. 

Both NCTA and OTI say that getting access to all that Wi-Fi spectrum is crucial. NCTA says unlicensed use has reached an inflection point and that allowing for low-power indoor use across the entire 1,200 MHz of the band is a step along the right path from that point. 

NCTA argues the FCC should reject FWCC's suggestion the FCC did not sufficiently protect incumbent users. As to the FCC's decision not to clear and reserve a portion of the band for licensed wireless use, it says that decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. "CTIA simply recycles points that it has previously advanced, which the Commission comprehensively addressed in the 6 GHz Order, and fails to identify any valid basis for reconsideration," NCTA says. 

OTI argues that CTIA's petition fails to assert a “material error, omission, or reason” to ask the FCC to reconsider the decision, other than CTIA disagreed with the outcome.  

OTI also says there are no "changed circumstances" that would justify reconsideration. To the contrary, it says, the FCC has already fully considered the arguments CTIA is reiterating, before making a "well reasoned" decision to allow unlicensed use across the entire 6 GHz band, rather than clear some of the upper band for flexible licenses sold at auction. 

They want the FCC to either dismiss the petitions, or deny them on the merits.

Unlicensed fans WiFi Forward, whose members include cable broadband providers, has said that opening up the 6 GHz band. combined with the FCC's plan to free up 5.9 GHz spectrum, also for unlicensed Wi-Fi, will add at least $183.44 billion to the U.S. economy over the next five years.

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.