WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) acted unlawfully and against the public interest when it permitted a host of new users into a vital spectrum band that will likely cause communications challenges for public safety and critical-infrastructure industries.

The Utilities Technology Council, joined by the American Public Power Association, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the FCC’s April 2020 decision that opened up the 6 GHz spectrum band to unlicensed use.

Utilities and public safety entities use the 6 GHz band for mission-critical communications; any disruption or interference stemming from new unlicensed users will likely degrade and diminish these critical communications, potentially threatening life and safety.

Despite numerous reports and submissions demonstrating the need for the FCC to act deliberately and carefully with this proposal, the Commission in its April 2020 decision approved an aggressive plan that will allow millions of new devices into the 6 GHz band without any proof or evidence that existing critical-infrastructure and public-safety communications will not be disrupted.

“From the beginning of this proceeding, we urged the Commission to fully vet and test its theories and assumptions that it could safely permit unlicensed users into a band already heavily used for public safety and essential electricity, water, and natural gas services,” said UTC President and CEO Sheryl Riggs. “Existing users of the 6 GHz spectrum band offered study after study demonstrating that the FCC’s plan was flawed and needed to be revised so as to allow a thorough analysis to prove these new devices could operate without causing interference. We do not take this step lightly, but feel that taking this matter to court is in the best interest of our members, our industry, and the public.”

The petition asks the court to determine that the FCC acted unlawfully by permitting new devices into the band without sufficient safeguards to prevent harmful interference. In addition, the petition argues that the agency failed to consider numerous studies demonstrating the high interference risk the rule posed, and asks the court to vacate the decision.

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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