Wi-Fi Fans to FCC: Don’t ‘Pull Rug’ Out from Under 6 GHz Item

Warns against compromise on indoor power levels

The Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) is warning the FCC not to “pull the technical rug” out from under the FCC’s own efforts to boost unlicensed Wi-Fi. 

That came in comments on the FCC’s proposal to allow very low power (VLP) unlicensed devices to operate throughout the 6 GHz band, indoors and outdoors, which means sharing with broadcast and utility company incumbents, and low power devices to operate indoors only, both of which the coalition supports. 

Related: FCC Opens All of 6 GHz Band for Unlicensed

But it is concerned that the FCC could strike an “arbitrary” agreement with those incumbents on the indoor-only power levels that might appear to be a compromise but that the coalition says could instead undermine the enormous benefits of Wi-Fi if in practice it makes routers “far more costly, complex, and less useful for the average household or small business.” 

The FCC has tentatively concluded that power levels to indor-only devices up to 8 dBm/MHz are acceptable. The coalition says it should stick with that absence convincing evidence that it would “substantially increase the risk of harmful interference” to incumbents. 

Broadcasters are worried that the new unlicensed users could cause harmful interference to electronic newsgathering and field-to-studio transmissions in the band. 

“NAB is disappointed the FCC is allowing uncoordinated unlicensed use across the entire 6 GHz band,” National Association of Broadcasters Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said at the time of the FCC vote to approve the 6 GHz sharing. “Unlike in other recent proceedings, the Commission did not bring stakeholders together to seek compromise.”  

PISC doesn’t want it to start now, particularly since it doesn’t see it as a ‘compromise’ but as a potential capitulation to incumbents.

PISC members include the Open Technology Institute, Consumer Reports, Public Knowledge, Common Cause and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.