6 GHz FCC Proceedings in the US

5 November, 2018 | Government Regulations
Article by Edward Au

In early June 2018, Chairman Pai of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States previewed the FCC agenda for the remainder of the year in a blog posting [1] and indicated that he would move forward with a rulemaking on the 6 GHz band (5.925 – 7.125 GHz band) this fall for maintaining momentum in the effort to expand use of the mid-band spectrum.

As of October 2018, this 6 GHz item will appear in the October 23rd agenda of the Open Commission Meeting [2].  In order to prepare for the Open Commission Meeting, the Commission issued a Public Notice assigning a docket number (18-295) to the 6 GHz proceeding [3] and the corresponding notice of proposed rulemaking [4].

Unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band is particularly important to the future of different radio access technologies including Wi-Fi.  This spectrum is uniquely suitable for deployment of the next generation of Wi-Fi because it offers sufficient bandwidth to alleviate data traffic congestion and provides for commonality of equipment with existing Wi-Fi networks already utilizing adjacent frequency band.

In the United States, the 1,200 MHz band is currently used by several licensed non-federal services, and is divided into 4 different frequency allocations subject to different FCC’s rules for operations, including Part 25 [5] and Part 101 [6]:

5.925-6.425 GHz (a.k.a. U-NII-5 band)—The primary allocation to this band is fixed point-to-point service (FS) and fixed satellite services (FSS).  This band is used by microwave and satellite licensees.  Therefore, there is a limitation on outdoor access point use.  Outdoor access points must be professionally installed and interference analysis must be conducted.  For indoor access points and client devices, some limitations including emission limit apply.

6.425-6.525 GHz (a.k.a. U-NII-6 band)—The primary allocation to this band is mobile service and FSS. Given the presence of the incumbent services, including broadcast auxiliary service (BAS), cable TV relay service (CARS), and mobile microwave use of the band, outdoor access point use is prohibited.  For indoor access points and client devices, limitations including emission limit are also applied to protect satellite operations.

6.525-6.825 GHz (a.k.a. U-NII-7 band)—The primary allocation to this band is FS and FSS.  This band is used by microwave and satellite licensees and therefore, there is a limitation on outdoor access point use.  Outdoor access points must be professionally installed and interference analysis must be conducted.  For indoor access points and client devices, limitations including emission limit are also applied to protect satellite operations.

6.875-7.125 GHz (a.k.a. U-NII-8 band)—The primary allocation to this band is FS, mobile service, and FSS. Because of the BAS, the mobile BAS, CARS and mobile microwave use of the band, outdoor access point use is prohibited.  For indoor access points and client devices, limitations including emission limit are also applied to protect satellite operations.

For the notice of proposed rulemaking [4], the Commission proposes rules that are generally modelled on those in Part 15 governing the 5 GHz U-NII bands [7], with 1 watt standard-power access points (including outdoors) permitted in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands, and 250 milliwatt lower-power indoor access point operations in the U-NII-6 and U-NII-8 bands.

For the standard-power access points, professional installation is also required. Client devices would be permitted in the entire band, operating at maximum of 63 milliwatts. Standard-power access points would be required to include automated frequency coordination (AFC) as a way of protecting incumbent operations.

In particular, AFC is a mechanism that determines coordination contours for licensed systems based on applicable databases, identifies available frequencies to avoid harmful interference to these systems, and is part of the remediation process. Lower-powered access points and client devices would be exempt from this requirement.

Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is adopted by the Commission, it will be published in the Federal Register.  The deadline for comments will be 60 days following that publication, and the deadline for reply comments will be 90 days after publication.

References

[1] Link to Reference 1

[2] Link to Reference 2

[3]  Link to Reference 3

[4] Link to Reference 4

[5] Link to Reference 5

[6] Link to Reference 6

[7] Link to Reference 7

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