Enterprise alliance urges FCC to back off sharing in 6 GHz band for safety, other reasons

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Utilities and railroads are among those that rely on 6 GHz microwave bands. (Pixabay)

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) is throwing its voice into the ring—one that includes first responders, utilities and railroads—to say it has grave concerns about putting the 6 GHz microwave band into play for 5G.

The FCC has identified the 6 GHz band as spectrum that could be used for 5G, but current users of the band include first responders, utilities, railroads and wireless licensees that provide mission-critical operations. EWA is urging the FCC not to proceed with any band sharing proposal unless or until the commission has empirical evidence that unlicensed U-NII-type usage can be controlled sufficiently to avoid causing destructive interference.

“The FCC’s focus on accommodating the data-centric desires of consumers cannot be allowed to override more essential public interest considerations,” said EWA President and CEO Mark Crosby in a letter to the FCC (PDF). “Consumers may want to stream movies and play games on their wireless devices, but they also want their electricity to stay on, water to flow to their homes, police, fire and emergency responders to protect their safety, and trains to run on time and on their tracks. Until the FCC has assured itself through empirical, not just theoretical data, it should not permit additional unlicensed sharing in the 6 GHz band.”

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RELATED: Google, Facebook, others press for 6 GHz rulemaking

Earlier this year, a group of tech companies presented an engineering analysis prepared by RKF Engineering Solutions that showed spectrum sharing is feasible between 6 GHz band incumbents and unlicensed devices, or what’s dubbed Radio Local Area Network (RLAN) operations.

But others challenged the study’s conclusions and how it was done. The Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC), AT&T Services and National Spectrum Management Association (NSMA) are among those that criticized the study and insist that the use of RLANs will cause harmful interference to 6 GHz fixed links.

RELATED: AT&T says 6 GHz band key for FirstNet, 5G

The tech companies cite the need for more unlicensed spectrum, and the 6 GHz band’s proximity to existing operations would allow users to create wide channels that are increasingly important for things like ultra-HD video streaming, gaming and augmented/virtual reality.

The group includes Apple, Facebook, Google, Qualcomm and many others that would like to see the FCC kick off a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the subject. They say there are several techniques to deal with the different interference scenarios in the sub-bands or in geographic areas, or even for particular service categories, and they’ve introduced possible mitigation techniques into the record.