Utilities Oppose Expanded Use of 6-GHz Spectrum Band

Expanded use of mid-band spectrum by new wireless broadband services could interfere with critical utility networks used for the reliable operation of the nation’s electricity grid, the Utilities Technology Council told the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday.

The FCC is inquiring whether it should expand use of the 5.925-6.425 and 6.425-7.125 bands—collectively referred to as the “6-GHz bands”—to new entrants and devices. The inquiry comes after several of the agency’s bureaus in January granted a waiver permitting the operation of 50,000 satellite earth stations by a company called Higher Ground without any prior coordination with utilities and others who operate mission critical microwave systems throughout the 6 GHz band.

The Utilities Technology Council and other organizations have asked the commission to reconsider the Higher Ground order as it is contrary to the record, evidenced by the near universal opposition due to interference concerns.

In its comments on the 6-GHz inquiry, the Utilities Technology Council noted that electric and water utilities, along with pipelines and other critical infrastructure providers, use the 6 GHz microwave systems to support voice and data communications in their service territories. These industries use this band when safety personnel are updating, modernizing, repairing, and restoring their infrastructure.

According to the council, energy and water providers have few alternatives to operating in the 6 GHz band. This is particularly critical as utilities deploy new technologies that will offer more interaction with their customers.

In other news, the FCC also sought feedback on expanded use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (collectively referred to as the 4 GHz band). The Utilities Technology Council offered its support for this proposal, saying the 4 GHz band could support a variety of broadband communications applications.

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