January 11, 2021

Southern Urges FCC to ‘Refrain’ from Additional 6 GHz Actions, Citing Congress

Southern Company last week urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) not to take action that would permit expanded unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band until it has reported to Congress on its testing progress.

Tucked inside the massive federal funding/COVID relief bill signed into law late last year, Congress directed the FCC to report on testing in the 6 GHz spectrum band.

The congressional language specifically notes that appropriators are concerned about the impact of the 6 GHz rulemaking on the electric transmission and distribution system. It requires the FCC to report “within 90 days” on it progress “in ensuring rigorous testing related to unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band.”

In its Jan. 7 letter to outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the four other FCC commissioners, Southern Company noted that it has raised concerns about the commission’s 6 GHz efforts in numerous comments and filings. It noted that last fall, it submitted a study with CTIA finding that low-power indoor and outdoor very low-power devices caused harmful interference to existing 6 GHz links.

“Accordingly, consistent with the clear direction of Congress as expressed in the

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Southern urges the Commission to refrain from adopting any measures that would expand unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band until after rigorous testing of such unlicensed use has been performed,” the letter said.

UTC is working on filing an ex parte in support of the Southern letter and is working to schedule meetings with FCC officials in relation to the congressional requirement.

Senate appropriators included the requirement as part of the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2021 legislation it passed last year.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Report on 6 GHz ULS Data Available for Review

WInnForum has published TR-1008, “Incumbent Fixed Service Data in the U.S. U-NII 5 & 7 Bands.”

The document is a general description of the incumbent fixed service data available in the ULS and how to work with it. This document will form the basis of the discussions in the 6 GHz Multi Stakeholder Group, Work Stream #2 effort, which is addressing the underlying ULS data that AFC will need to use to identify and protect incumbent licensed facilities in the 6 GHz band from interference from certain unlicensed operations.

UTC members with 6 GHz paths are encouraged to download the document and send any comments to the UTC Advocacy Team. Members, and clients seeking to participate in UTC’s 6 GHz technical effort are encouraged to join the UTC Networks community here.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Alabama Power Teams Up to Provide Middle-Mile Broadband Services

Southern Company affiliate Alabama Power announced last week that it is partnering with a regional internet provider to bring broadband services to unserved and underserved areas in Alabama.

According to the announcement, Alabama Power will provide middle-mile services to West Point, Ga.-based Point Broadband, which will then offer fiber-to-the-premises internet in the Lake Martin, Al., region.

Alabama Power will lease a portion of its fiber infrastructure to help support Point Broadband’s offering of high-speed internet on Lake Martin.

“The need for greater broadband accessibility for Alabamians to continue to learn, grow business and lead healthy lives is greater than ever before,” said Leslie Sanders, vice president of Alabama Power’s Southern Division. “We’re excited to partner with Point Broadband to be part of the solution. The advanced technology of our electric grid makes it smarter, more reliable and resilient, and can also help facilitate the expansion of broadband services.”

Point Broadband said it will provide up to 1 gigabit symmetrical broadband service with whole-home W-Fi, allowing numerous devices to run around the clock.