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APPA, Other Groups Ask Court To Review FCC 6 GHz Report And Order

July 30, 2020

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted July 30, 2020

The American Public Power Association, the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) on July 27, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Report and Order (R&O) to open the 6 GHz band of spectrum to unlicensed usage.

The FCC issued its R&O to open the 6 GHz band of spectrum to unlicensed usage in May, which went into effect July 27.

The R&O allows two types of unlicensed operations, low powered indoor use and outdoor use protected with automated frequency coordination technology.

APPA, along with a broad coalition of incumbent license holders, offered extensive comments during the R&O consideration raising concerns regarding interference to operations that could result from opening the band to unlicensed users and requesting further testing and protections from the FCC.

The petition seeks review by the court that the FCC R&O violates the Administrative Procedures Act “on the grounds that it is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”

The petition asks the court to hold that the FCC’s R&O unlawfully authorizes unlicensed low power indoor operations without sufficient safeguards to prevent harmful interference to licensed operations.

APPA, UTC and NRECA also want the court to hold that the FCC was arbitrary and capricious in failing to adequately consider studies on the record that show that unlicensed operations will cause harmful interference to licensed systems.

In addition, the court should vacate those portions of the R&O it finds to be arbitrary and capricious or otherwise unlawful or defective, the petition said.

The court should also remand to the FCC for proceedings consistent with the court’s findings and/or “provide such other relief as the court deems appropriate.”

No timetable has been set by the court, but it is unlikely the court will hear the case before 2021 at the earliest.

In recent joint comments submitted to the FCC, APPA and several other trade groups argued that the FCC should refrain from further expansion of unlicensed operations in the 6 GHz band “until such time that additional testing has been conducted to prove that unlicensed operations will not cause harmful interference to licensed microwave systems.”