Court denies 6 GHz band protection for utilities

A federal court has denied a request by NRECA and others to reverse a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that opens the radio spectrum used for critical utility communications to unlicensed wireless devices that can cause dangerous interference.

In the Dec. 28 decision, the court said it was deferring to the FCC’s expertise in regulating activity within the 6-gigahertz spectrum band, which until recently had been largely reserved for licensed utility and public safety communications.

“Electric co-ops rely on the 6 GHz band to operate their SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, deploy advanced metering infrastructure, provide broadband and communicate with teams in the field,” said Brian O’Hara, NRECA senior regulatory director.

“The court’s decision jeopardizes the functionality and reliability of those vital co-op operations.”

NRECA petitioned the FCC to develop new rules governing the opening of the 6 GHz band, to prevent interference from low-power devices like cellphones, laptops and Wi-Fi routers. The FCC was also asked to close the 6 GHz band to unlicensed users until new rules and protections are in place.

Source: Cathy Cash, NRECA.