Utilities Sue FCC Over 6 GHz Order

(Image credit: FCC)

The Utilities Technology Council has joined broadcasters in suing the FCC over its decision to allow unlicensed use in the entire 6 GHz band. 

"The Federal Communications Commission acted unlawfully and against the public interest when it permitted a host of new users into a vital spectrum band that will likely cause communications challenges for public safety and critical-infrastructure industries," the council told the court in its petition. 

Electric utilities--and broadcast news gatherers--use the band and are concerned about interference from unlicensed broadband access devices. 

The council wants the court to: 

(1) "Hold that the FCC’s rules in the Report and Order unlawfully authorize unlicensed low power indoor operations without sufficient safeguards to prevent harmful interference to licensed operations; 

(2) "Hold that the FCC was arbitrary and capricious in failing to adequately consider studies on the record that show that unlicensed operations will cause harmful interference to licensed systems; 

(3) "Vacate those portions of the Report and Order the Court finds to be arbitrary and capricious or otherwise unlawful or defective; 

(4) "Remand to the FCC for proceedings consistent with the Court’s findings..." 

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. 

Last week, the National Association of Broadcasters filed its suit, saying the potential interference could affect life-saving local news and information during the pandemic.

Both appeals are to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the court of principal jurisdiction over FCC decisions. 

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.