On October 23, 2018, in the Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) in the Unlicensed Use of the 5.925-7.125 GHz (“6 GHz Band”) proceeding (FCC 18-147; ET Docket No. 18-295; GN Docket No. 17-183). The NPRM proposes rules that will allow unlicensed consumer devices to operate in the 6 GHz band while protecting licensed services from harmful interference.

Minor changes made from the previously circulated draft item include:

  • A proposal to designate multiple entities to operate AFC systems rather than seeking comment on whether a single operator or multiple operators should be designated (¶ 33).
  • The FCC also asks interested parties to comment on the potential effect of the Commission’s proposals on existing, unlicensed devices and use models, and asks parties to suggest specific rules and mitigations strategies that would minimize risk (¶ 72).
  • Additionally, the FCC asks if low-power, indoor-only unlicensed devices should be permitted to operate in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands without being under the control of an AFC system, and if so, what power levels should be permitted and what rules or mitigation techniques should be developed to allow such use. (¶ 73).
  • The adopted NPRM also added a paragraph addressing unlicensed devices which operate without being associated with a fixed access point (e.g., smartphones with mobile hotspots) and seeks comment on whether unlicensed devices in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands should be allowed to operate as transportable devices (¶ 76).
  • A final addition to the NPRM includes a section seeking comment on whether higher power operations could be permitted in rural and underserved areas, and if so, to which bands should operations be limited and should they be under the control of an AFC system (¶ 79).

On December 17, 2018, the Commission published the NPRM in the Federal Register therefore establishing the following comment dates: Comments are due February 15, 2019.

Reply comments are due March 18, 2019. Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on the PRA proposed information collection requirements and on how to reduce the information collection burdens for small businesses. These comments are due April 16, 2019.

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