Press Release

FCC Takes Steps Towards Making 6 GHz Unlicensed a Reality for Consumers

September 30, 2021

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission approved a Public Notice to authorize Automated Frequency Coordination Systems to govern the operation of standard-power devices in the 6 GHz band. In 2020, the FCC adopted technical requirements for the use of the 6GHz band by unlicensed devices. As part of those requirements, the Commission established rules for low-power indoor use and separate rules for standard-power operations in the 5.925-6.425 GHz and 6.525-6.875 GHz portions of the 6 GHz band. 

In order to prevent harmful interference from these standard-power uses, the Commission required that devices operate under the control of automated frequency coordination (AFC) systems. The AFC systems will use information provided by the FCC to identify the location and propagation models of microwave links in the band as well as the power levels standard-power devices may operate in a given area. By establishing the technical rules for the approval of AFC systems for the 6 GHz band, the FCC takes the crucial next step to realizing the innovation and consumer benefits that will come from unlicensed operations in the band.

The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The effort to expand unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band started in 2018. Yesterday’s action signifies that the end is in sight. Authorizing Automated Frequency Coordination Systems is the first step to actually realizing the significant benefits of allowing unlicensed access to the whole 6 GHz band.

“The AFC systems the Commission approves will enable standard-power outdoor unlicensed operations. This is a big deal because typically unlicensed spectrum access is limited to low-power indoor only operations. With outdoor standard power unlicensed access to spectrum, schools, hospitals, entertainment venues, parks, and other entities can deploy outdoor Wi-Fi operations. 

“At a time when we rely on Wi-Fi for nearly all facets of modern life, improving the options consumers have to get connected is critical.”