Above: Extract from FCC Ex Parte filing by Harris, Wiltshire, & Grannis LLP, August 2, 2018.
By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
As the Wi-Fi industry homes in on more spectrum for Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz band, a consortium of tech giants met with the FCC on July 31 to propose a new database-lookup scheme for protecting incumbent ‘FS’ (fixed service) 6 GHz users from possible interference.
The race to secure more spectrum for Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz band is on and on July 31 a consortium of tech giants including Apple, Google, Facebook, Qualcomm and many others met with the FCC’s technical staff to posit a new scheme for protection of incumbent users of the 6 GHz band.
A database approach to 6 GHz shared spectrum
The consortium is proposing to keep the U-NII-3 rules as the baseline and then add as required what they call an ‘Automated Frequency Coordination’ (AFC) function. The scheme would involve determining ‘protection contours’ for licensed (point-to-point radio or so-called FS) systems and would keep track of what frequencies would be permitted for unlicensed use in the vicinity.
The consortium also suggested that lower-power indoor 6 GHz devices should not be subject to the AFC scheme since they ‘pose no material risk of harmful interference to incumbent links,’ the filing says. The details of the filing can be found on the FCC’s website here.
A database lookup approach to sharing spectrum has previously been approved by the FCC in connection with TV White Space spectrum rules as well as for CBRS bands although neither of the two have thus far been practically tested in mass-market deployment scenarios.
Prospects of unlicensed 6 GHz draw nearer
A flurry of activity has recently been directed towards the FCC on the issue of new band allocations for Wi-Fi. The consortium mentioned above and not least that the Wi-Fi Alliance are pushing hard for the FCC’s release of an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making), which is the next and likely penultimate procedural step in releasing 6 GHz for Wi-Fi. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has previously indicated that he expects the NPRM to be released this fall.
On August 8 the Wi-Fi Alliance issued this statement to the FCC outlining their recommendations on how to protect incumbent 6 GHz users. The Wi-Fi Alliance argued that so-called FSS (satellite uplink) in the 6 GHz band can be protected under the existing rules for pointing constraints meaning keeping Wi-Fi beams directed sufficiently away from the geostationary arc of the satellites in question.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is also advocating that 6 GHz Wi-Fi power limits are harmonised with current U-NII-3 rules to achieve economies of scale and design efficiencies.
Allocating the 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi (including for the new AX standard) would arguably be the biggest windfall for the wireless industry since the inception of Wi-Fi some 20 years ago.