February 10, 2020

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Southern Submits Analysis Urging Adequate Protections in 6 GHz Band

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) must adopt strong protection systems to ensure incumbent users are adequately insulated from harmful interference should it allow unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band, Southern Company told the agency.

Southern officials will be meeting with members of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) this week to review the results of a study it commissioned to determine whether and how its microwave links would be impacted by the FCC’s proposed rule.

The study, performed by Lockard & White, found that without a strong system to protect its communications paths, even low-power devices operating in the 6 GHz band would impact Southern’s networks.

“As the attached analysis demonstrates, [Radio Local Area Network Low Power Indoor units] operating without an effective Automated Frequency Coordination (‘AFC’) system will significantly impact Southern’s microwave links, even in a rural, non-urban setting,” Southern told the Commission. “This analysis also demonstrates that these microwave links would be impacted by very low power (‘VLP’) RLAN units as well, as such units are currently defined.”

Southern submitted the study after OET staff asked the company to provide an analysis of which of its microwave links would be most susceptible to interference, the company said.

The Lockard & White study used existing analyses submitted into the FCC record and noted the differences and areas of disagreement over assumptions to come up with the appropriate inputs for its analysis. Lockard & White used what it considers conservative assumptions that are favorable to those who support unlicensed use in the band to conduct its analysis, Southern said.

“[T]he results of L&W’s study demonstrate that, even with assumptions favorable to the position of the RLAN proponents, uncontrolled (i.e., no AFC) RLAN LPI operations will cripple Southern’s licensed 6 GHz microwave links,” Southern said.

Southern’s filing comes a few weeks after UTC and our allied industry associations submitted a detailed analysis of how the FCC’s proposal could impact microwave links in the Houston area (Industry Intelligence, Jan. 21, 2020).

Duke Touts Benefits of Market-Driven Colocation Policies

Officials from Duke Energy met with key FCC staff last month to urge them to support voluntary, market-driven approaches to small-cell pole attachments on utility poles as a means to accelerate 5G deployment.

According to Duke’s ex parte letter, they urged the FCC to reject a petition from CTIA to classify utility owned street lights as “poles” and therefore subject to the agency’s strict pole-attachment regulations.

At present, Duke employs a street-light collocation program consisting of numerous stakeholders, from the wireless industry to city and local officials.

“By involving the cities and various other stakeholders in the discussion on the front end of the streetlight collocation program, Duke Energy was able to facilitate a solution that met the needs of the carriers, the cities, Duke Energy’s lighting business, and other stakeholders,” Duke wrote. “This type of solution can only occur when all participants are motivated by opportunity. These types of solutions, and the continuing evolution of those solutions, are difficult (if not impossible) to produce through regulation.”

Duke’s letter continues a critical message that utilities are important and willing partners to the accelerated deployment of 5G services. Late last year, Southern Company and Xcel Energy filed similar comments after their meetings with FCC staff (Industry Intelligence, Jan. 13, 2020).

The UTC Public Policy Team is working on case studies and other new collateral on pole-attachment issues. Please contact the Team with any questions.

Federal Agencies Sign MOU on Energy Cyber Readiness

Three federal agencies signed a joint agreement to develop new information-sharing protocols, training, and educational opportunities to better understand and respond to cybersecurity threats.

In an announcement last week, the departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security said the new Energy Sector Pathfinder initiative will build on previous efforts across government and the private sector.

Pathfinder programs are exploratory in nature, scoped to address the technologies, challenges, and threats facing a specific critical infrastructure sector, adapted to its regulatory environment, maturity, and existing relationship with the federal government, the agencies said.

The Energy Sector Pathfinder will explore challenges facing America’s energy critical infrastructure and strengthen interagency collaboration on preventing and responding to the constantly evolving cyber threats, agency principals said.

According to the federal agencies, programs like the Pathfinder initiatives are essential to assist the U.S.’s ability to defend critical infrastructure. The Energy Sector Pathfinder program will facilitate collaboration on response playbooks that can be shared with all stakeholders, as well as exercises to stress-test the playbooks and to drive capability development, the agencies said.

UTC’s Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee (SRCC) provides UTC members with insight into these and related public-private partnerships. Please contact the SRCC Team with any questions.

Join UTC at IWCE for a Discount!

UTC is exhibiting and moderating technical sessions at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE), held in Las Vegas from March 30 through April 2, with exhibit hall hours on April 1 and 2.

Visit our coordination and technical staff in booth number 959 on the exhibit floor.

Those planning on attending but not yet registered, IWCE is offering a 20% discount for all UTC members, 10% discount on pre-conference education sessions.

Contact Klaus.bender@utc.org for more details.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

  • May 18-22, 2020: Telecom & Technology Annual Meeting, Providence, RI
  • Feb. 27-28: Region 7 Spring Meeting, Hyatt Centric French Quarter, New Orleans
  • March 4-6: Region 3 Spring Meeting, Hilton Franklin Cool Springs, Tennessee
  • March 23-25: Region 6 Meeting, Double Tree by Hilton Kansas City-Overland ParkCommittee/Division calls
  • Feb. 11: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 11—UtiliSite call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 17: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 19: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 20: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Feb. 20: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 20: WEBINAR! Fiber to the Premises—For more information, click here
  • Feb. 21: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 25: WEBINAR! Improving Grid Reliability with Utility Grade Broadband Architecture—For more information, click here