FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday laid out a proposal to open the entire 6 GHz band to unlicensed use like WiFi, Inside Towers reported. Telecom industry representatives and Pai consider 6 GHz key mid-band spectrum for future wireless use.
The Chairman wants the Commission to vote on the proposal at its April 23 meeting. Companies like Charter Communications, Broadcom, Intel and plenty of others praised the item, as did CTIA and WISPA.
However, there are skeptics. Incumbent utilities, which occupy the band now, would have to juggle their operations with WiFi. As part of the proposal, Pai said automated technology can prevent interference with utility operations. Utilities Technology Council SVP Artz said the organization “will continue to provide the FCC with technical detail demonstrating the very real interference potential from unlicensed use across all parts of the band and the need for thoroughly tested Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) to protect incumbent users.”
The UTC is also concerned the agency is planning to allow low-power indoor unlicensed operations across the entire 1200 MHz of the band. It pledged to work with the FCC and interested stakeholders to develop technical requirements to protect infrastructure incumbents and allow unlicensed operations in the band.
Broadcasters, too, are wary and said they rely on these airwaves. “The last few weeks of lifeline coronavirus coverage by local TV stations have made crystal clear the value of the 6 GHz band to broadcasters and the viewers we serve,” said NAB EVP Communications Dennis Wharton. “If broadcasters are to continue providing news coverage that is trusted in a crisis, we need spectrum to provide that service.”
Broadcasters, “have previously witnessed the negative impact WiFi operations have caused to spectrum [stations] use to cover breaking news. Opening the entire 6 GHz band to unlicensed use without strong safeguards risks locking the FCC into a mistake it cannot correct,” added Wharton.
The NAB, too, pledged to work with the FCC to discuss potential solutions, including appropriate power levels, methods for restricting indoor-only operations, and other options to protect broadcaster uses.
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