FCC Proposal to Open 6 GHz Band Could Threaten Utility Communications Networks: UTC

 

Washington—Oct. 23, 2018 –Utilities Technology Council President and CEO Joy Ditto issued the following statement in response today’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission’s to proceed on a rulemaking to expand the use of the 6 GHz spectrum band:

“Many of our nation’s electric, gas and water utilities rely on the 6 GHz spectrum band to underpin the reliable delivery of energy and water services to homes and businesses all over the country. Utilities use the 6 GHz band for their communications networks that support day-to-day, routine reliability, emergency response, storm restoration, and, increasingly for electric utilities, new technologies such as smart meters and integration of distributed energy resources. The 6 GHz band provides utilities and other critical infrastructure industries (CII) with the high-speed, long distance wireless communications required for these essential services.

“Today, the FCC initiated a rulemaking to expand access to the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use. Although we understand the need for expanded wireless broadband, the risk of radio frequency interference to utilities’ mission-critical networks outweighs the potential benefits from unlicensed use of the band. We are greatly concerned that the proposed rulemaking as drafted would not sufficiently mitigate potential interference to utility systems from these new unlicensed operations.

“The 6GHz band is already heavily used by utilities and other CII and is uniquely suited for these vital communications systems. In fact, there appear to be no other reasonable alternative bands for utilities to use. By contrast, there are many other bands that could be used for unlicensed, non-critical commercial operations; indeed, the Commission has already opened up additional spectrum for unlicensed operations in other bands that have yet to be used to their full potential. At the same time, the FCC has not yet opened up any new bands for CII use. In fact, many utilities were forced to migrate to the 6 GHz band because the FCC reallocated other spectrum bands that utilities and other CII were already using for critical systems.

“Electricity is essential to deployment of telecommunications and, in fact, any modern device or machine. Rather than negatively impact utility operations which, in turn, impacts all other facets of the economy, we urge the FCC to rethink their proposal. We look forward to raising these concerns with the Commission. We are confident the record will demonstrate that the risks to utility and other CII networks is too great, and that there are other spectrum bands more suitable to achieve the Commission’s goals.”

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About UTC
The Utilities Technology Council (UTC) is a global trade association dedicated to serving critical infrastructure providers. Through advocacy, education and collaboration, UTC creates a favorable business, regulatory and technology environment for our members who own or operate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems in support of their core business. For more information: UTC.org