FCC Releases Public Notice Initiating 6 GHz AFC System Authorization Process

On October 1, 2021, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing the beginning of the process for authorizing 6 GHz Band (5.625-7.125 GHz) automated frequency coordination (“AFC”) systems, which was adopted at the September Open Meeting.  You may recall that in the 6 GHz Report and Order the FCC expanded spectrum access in the 6 GHz band for unlicensed devices.  Under the rules governing this expanded access, operators of standard-power unlicensed devices are required to check an AFC system prior to operation to avoid interference to incumbents in the band.

The Public Notice sets forth deadlines and requirements for parties interested in becoming an AFC system operator, as required by the 6 GHz Report and Order.  OET will consider all proposals submitted by November 30, 2021 concurrently, and comments on those proposals will be due by December 21, 2021.  Parties may submit proposals after November 30, 2021, however, they will not be considered concurrently with earlier received proposals and will have a different comment cycle.  Proposals will not be considered mutually exclusive and OET will conditionally approve as many proposals as are found to satisfy all AFC system requirements.

Proposals must comply with section 15.407(k) of the Commission’s rules and the 6 GHz Report and Order.  Complete proposals should include a technical diagram of the AFC system, a description of its software, a description of the operator’s technical expertise, and a description of how the system will be used during the trial period, among other things.  Proposals and comments should be fled in ET-Docket 21-352.

After receiving conditional approval, applicants will be allowed to offer their AFC system to the public for a trial period to ensure that it provides accurate results.  This trial period will include testing, both in a controlled environment and through demonstrations.  OET may require AFC system operators to attend workshops, meetings, or complete additional testing during this period.  All applicants must comply with all of OET’s instructions and requests.

Initial proposals are due by November 30, 2021; comments on the initial proposals are due by December 21, 2021.

On September 9, 2021, the FCC released a Draft Public Notice announcing the beginning of the process for authorizing 6 GHz Band (5.625-7.125 GHz) automated frequency coordination (“AFC”) systems. The following changes were made from the Draft Public Notice:

  • ¶ 9 – including a requirement that an AFC system proposal must include the AFC system operator contact information, including name, phone number, and email address, which FCC staff may use for all AFC system related inquiries and that the description of methods used for secure communication between the AFC system and associated standard-power devices must demonstrate that unauthorized parties cannot access or alter the database of available frequencies and power levels sent to the standard-power devices.
  • ¶ 12 – including a paragraph explaining that this Notice is non-major under the Congressional Review Act.

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