January 21, 2020

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Detailed 6 GHz Analysis Finds FCC Proposal Would Cause Interference to CII Networks in 6 GHz Band

Electric, water, and natural gas utilities submitted a study finding that the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) proposal to allow unlicensed use in the 6 GHz spectrum band would cause harmful interference to existing networks, including those managed by critical-infrastructure industries.

The study, performed by Roberson and Associates, also concludes that even unlicensed lower-powered devices in the band would impact most if not all microwave links in a particular area.

UTC along with the Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, American Public Power Association, American Water Works Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Nuclear Energy Institute commissioned the study. It was submitted to the FCC on Jan. 13.

At issue is the FCC’s October 2018 proposal to allow unlicensed users access to the heavily used 6 GHz band. UTC has led a years-long advocacy effort in opposition to the proposal, as several UTC utility members use the 6 GHz band for mission-critical communications. Any interference to these communications could cause operational problems.

The Roberson study reviewed microwave receivers using the 6 GHz band in the Houston metropolitan area and considered interference from both residential and outdoor Wi-Fi access points and for Wi-Fi adjacent channel emissions. The study concluded that deployment of unlicensed wireless networks within the 6 GHz band as currently proposed in the FCC rule would cause all the point-to-point links in the Houston area to experience unacceptable levels of interference.  Interference disrupts or delays transmissions being sent over wireless networks. For the energy and water utility industries, interference on our communications systems can cause operational problems.

Specifically, the CII User Study found:

  • Outdoor standard-power devices and indoor low-power devices without Automated Frequency Control cannot be deployed in the Houston metropolitan area without impacting all point-to-point microwave links.
  • Preliminary analysis of very low power (“VLP”) operations indicates that the potential interference from VLP operations has been significantly underestimated. Additional, more comprehensive study is required to realistically assess the interference potential of VLP devices.

In sum, the CII User Study demonstrates the real-world risk from the current proposal to allow unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band, especially to the broad cross-section of the nation’s CII and public safety users that depend daily on the 6 GHz band for essential and mission-critical communications.

UTC is using the study to bolster our advocacy efforts at the FCC and elsewhere. Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Draft Policy Resolutions for May 2020 T&T Meeting Due Jan. 31

UTC core utility members have two weeks—until Jan. 31, 2020—to submit ideas or concepts for potential policy resolutions to be adopted at the association’s annual Telecom & Technology conference next May.

This is the third time UTC is pursuing policy positions through the resolution process as approved by the UTC Board in its December 2017 meeting.

Any UTC core utility member can submit a proposed resolution or ideas for a resolution to UTC’s Public Policy Team by Jan. 31. Only UTC core utility members can submit a resolution; if a vendor member has an idea, it must be sponsored and submitted by a core utility member.

Once all the proposed resolutions are collected by UTC staff, the Public Policy Division (PPD) will formally accept and discuss the proposals during its regularly scheduled February meeting. PPD members will have the opportunity to edit and debate the proposed resolutions prior to its March call, at which point the division will vote on the resolutions. This call will be open to all UTC core utility members.

Any resolutions cleared by the PPD will be submitted for review and consideration by the entire UTC membership at the annual Telecom and Technology meeting in Providence, RI, from May 18-22. Resolutions for consideration at the annual meeting must be distributed to the entire association membership no later than two weeks prior to the event. Additionally, the proposed resolutions will also be posted on the UTC Website.

UTC’s core utility members will vote on the proposed resolutions during the association’s business meeting at the annual conference. Each UTC core utility member company will have one vote during the meeting, meaning that core members must designate one person to cast the company’s vote.

Any resolutions approved at the annual Telecom and Technology meeting will be considered official UTC policy and will inform the association as it advocates for its members in Washington and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact UTC’s Public Policy Team. An FAQ about the resolutions process is available here.

Resolutions approved at since 2018 annual meeting are available here.

UTC Seeks Members’ Input for 2020 Education Program

UTC is planning an aggressive education program for 2020, with monthly themes focused on our members’ most critical needs.

To best serve our members, UTC is currently running a short survey, asking our members to rank 17 different topics on a scale from job-critical to uninteresting. UTC members perform a diverse set of job duties for a diverse set of utilities, so it is important for us to understand the needs of such a wide-ranging audience.

We have crafted this survey to require less than 10 minutes of your time.

Please take a few minutes to respond and to help UTC develop an education program that is valuable to you!

The survey is anonymous, though you do have the option to identify yourself if you would like us to follow-up with you.

You can access the survey here: https://www.research.net/r/UTC_2020_Educational_Program

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls