Utilities Seek FCC Stay of 6 GHz Order

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Utility companies are continuing to press their opposition to the FCC's decision to open the 6 GHz band to more unlicensed Wi-Fi, saying the FCC needs to stop certifying low-power devices and revoke the certifications they have already granted.

The Utilities Technology Council, joined by almost a dozen other utility associations, has filed a petition for rulemaking and request for a stay of the FCC order, saying the stay will "radiofrequency interference to their mission-critical communications from unlicensed operations in the 6 GHz band prevent."

Also: Utilities Seek Pause in 6 GHz Certifications

The FCC voted unanimously in April 2020 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.

The FCC is allowing low-power indoor Wi-Fi devices but UTC and company said their "real world testing" has shown that can interfere with licensed operators in the band, an interference threat they said is "imminent and substantial."

A showing of real harm absent the stay is one of the high bars for such an action.
Cable operators supported the FCC move while broadcasters argued for protecting the electronic news gathering (ENG) already using the band by reserving 80 MHz for them, saying there was too much risk of harmful interference to that even-more-crucial service in a time of pandemic.

FCC engineers concluded that the band could be shared and ENG (and utility company) protected, with the conditions the FCC had imposed. All the FCC commissioners agreed. ■

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.