April 27, 2020

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FCC Fails to Balance Innovation, Protection of Critical Communications in 6 GHz Plan

UTC will confer with its members and likeminded stakeholders to determine next steps after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) finalized rules that will likely interfere with mission-critical utility communications systems in the 6 GHz band.

Despite numerous studies demonstrating the need to enact strong measures to protect utility and other existing users in the 6 GHz band, the FCC voted unanimously to allow millions of new, unlicensed devices into the band without these necessary precautions, UTC said.

The FCC order was released late on Friday, April 24. UTC is reviewing the order and will schedule an opportunity to discuss the rules in detail along with potential next steps.

In a statement sent to national media outlets, UTC noted that the Commission appears to have dismissed, at best, analyses that showed how much interference would occur without certain measures.

“We have yet to see the final rule approved today by the Federal Communications Commission. Once we review the order we will have more extensive comments,” UTC said. “Expanding WiFi access is undoubtedly a critical goal that could result in significant benefits to all Americans. Our nation’s electric, water, and natural gas utilities believe there is a way to usher in these game-changing applications while also protecting the very networks needed to power them. We worked in good faith with the FCC and proponents of allowing unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band to demonstrate the crucial need to protect the first responders, public safety and critical-infrastructure industries (CII) that use the band for lifesaving and life-sustaining communications. We submitted real-world studies analyzing what could happen to existing communications networks in the band if the FCC proceeds without adequately protecting these systems from interference. Unfortunately, these studies proved that even at the power levels the FCC approved today, existing licensed communications systems in the band by utilities and other CII will receive harmful interference from unlicensed operations that are not controlled by automated frequency control (AFC) systems.

“Opening the 6 GHz band can be done in such a way that can both unleash the new innovations the FCC and others hope for while also protecting the CII systems already in the band. Doing so would take time, additional study, and stronger protections for incumbent systems. Today, the FCC appears to have decided on taking a much riskier approach that does not control low-power indoor operations using AFC. Nor does the FCC order provide additional testing to prevent interference from occurring or enforcement processes to resolve interference that does occur. We will be fully engaged in the upcoming further notice of proposed rulemaking.

In terms of next steps, UTC will discuss with its members and other stakeholders to determine how to proceed.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy team with any questions.

FCC Tees Up Vote on 900 MHz Realignment Order

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) is set to vote on an order realigning the 900 MHz spectrum band for broadband use during its open meeting next month.

In a notice last week, the FCC said it will act on the order at its May 13 meeting.

UTC released a summary of the draft order, which was posted on April 24.

According to the summary, the FCC takes three separate actions in its order.

The first is a Report and Order that does the following:

  • Realigns the band to make available six megahertz of spectrum for broadband operations, while reserving the band’s remaining four megahertz for continued narrowband operations
  • Establishes a transition mechanism, based primarily on negotiations between prospective broadband licensees and narrowband incumbents, that enables these prospective broadband licensees to relocate, acquire, or protect existing incumbents in the new broadband segment
  • Permits a 900 MHz broadband licensee (after license grant) to relocate mandatorily a small number of incumbents—except those with complex systems—from the new broadband segment to the narrowband segment by providing comparable facilities
  • Requires a broadband applicant to make an anti-windfall payment whenever it relinquishes less than six megahertz of spectrum in exchange for a six megahertz broadband license
  • Addresses license application requirements, transition procedures, and operating and technical rules applicable to the new 900 MHz broadband license

The last two actions in the order do the following:

  • Deny Enterprise Wireless Alliance’s petition for rulemaking, which requested that the Commission designate part of the 800 MHz guardband for relocation of 900 MHz narrowband systems
  • Lift the freeze on 900 MHz applications so that existing licensees can relocate their narrowband operations from the broadband segment to the narrowband segment

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC’s Bender Elected as President of LMCC Board of Directors

UTC Vice President of Engineering, Training and Standards Klaus Bender last week was elected President of the Land Mobile Communications Council’s (LMCC) Board of Directors.

Mr. Bender was elected by LMCC members during its April 22 Annual Membership Meeting; he will serve a one-year term.

For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the LMCC Board consists of:

Officers

  • President – Klaus Bender (UTC)
  • Vice President – Farokh Latif (Association of Public Safety Communications)
  • Secretary/Treasurer – Mark Crosby (Enterprise Wireless Association)

At-Large Members of the Board of Directors

  • Brandon Allen (International Association of Fire Chiefs)
  • Richard Rubino (The Monitoring Association)
  • David Smith (Forest Industries Telecommunications)

LMCC is a nonprofit association of organizations that represent the wireless communications interests of public safety, critical infrastructure, business, industrial, transportation, private and common carriers, and manufacturers of wireless communications equipment.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2020: Telecom & Technology Annual Meeting, Providence, RI
  • RESCHEDULED! Oct. 12-14: Region 6 Meeting, Double Tree by Hilton Kansas City-Overland Park
  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 4-6: Broadband Workshop, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Charlotte

Webinars

  • April 21: Small Cell Pole Attachment Best Practices
  • April 28: How Utilities Empower Broadband Deployment
  • May 7: Five Reasons Your Utility Should Consider Investing in Broadband
  • May 12: UTC Training Webinar: Utility Backup & DC Power Systems – Part 1
  • May 14: UTC Training Webinar: Utility Backup & DC Power Systems – Part 2
  • May 18: Light Brigade Fiber 101
  • May 20: How Virginia’s IOUs are Solving the Digital Divide

Committee/Division calls

  • April 28: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • May 12: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • May 15: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • May 21: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • May 21: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer