By B.N. Frank
In 2020, utility companies and associations filed lawsuits against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for not protecting utility infrastructure from potential electrical interference issues associated with the deployment of controversial 5G technology. Now they are suing the agency again for not protecting their infrastructure from potential interference issues associated with “a new generation of unlicensed 6G routers and other wireless devices.”
Utilities ask FCC to delay opening of 6 GHz to protect public safety
A coalition of utility groups and other current occupants of the 6 GHz communications band filed a pair of petitions with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week to block an expected tidal wave of the new “6G” generation of consumer electronics from moving into their currently exclusive neighborhood.
The Edison Electric Institute and American Public Power Association were among a dozen associations that signed the official request for rulemaking submitted to the FCC along with an 11th-hour request for a stay of any pending approvals for a new generation of unlicensed 6G routers and other wireless devices that will generate a blizzard of electronic interference that will blind thousands of microwave links that currently operate on the 6 gigahertz (GHz) band and are used by utilities to monitor and maintain the electricity grid and other vital communications.
The wireless market currently has 5G on its cutting edge; the 5G stands for fifth generation wireless technology, which is also capable of operating on the 6 GHz band and is not to be confused with the 6G consumer products that will soon be ready for deployment.
“The public interest would be served by granting a temporary stay because doing so will protect against interference that threatens the safe, reliable, and secure delivery of essential services to the public provided by electric, gas and water utilities as well as by public safety, broadcast television, telecommunications, and broadband service providers,” said the request for the stay. “The time to act is now before these devices cause harmful interference to licensed microwave systems and before they become widely available on a commercial basis.”
The request for the temporary stay also included a call for the FCC to carry out a testing program to prove the claims made by 6G proponents that the new gear, often referred to as low-power indoor (LPI) devises, operate on low power levels that won’t interfere with the line-of-sight microwave links that utilities use to quickly detect outages and communicate with generation sources.
The filings also noted that the law requires the FCC to accommodate the current licensees on the 6GHz frequency.
It was not immediately known when the FCC would respond to the petitions, but the industry sees time as short. The idea of 6G wireless has a lot of backers who imagine a sales boom in consumer devices whose signals would drown out not only utility equipment but also interfere with police and fire communications and other official users who, for now, have exclusive use of the coveted band.
“This is critical infrastructure,” said Craig A. Gilley, a partner at the Washington law firm Venable LLC, who has been pressing the utilities’ case with the FCC. “It all depends on what the FCC decides to do.”
The FCC has a lot on its plate and there is significant pressure on the Biden administration to get 6G off the ground promptly before the Chinese steal the leadership of the technology, which stretches beyond consumer bling into areas such as satellite broadband. Newly confirmed FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has called for a government role in developing the objectives and strategies for 6G technology and the role that the 6 GHz spectrum will play in the future.
Congress recently took steps to move Rosenworcel’s 6G/6GHz strategy forward. The Future Uses of Technology Upholding Reliable and Enhanced (FUTURE) Networks Act, H.R. 4045, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives this month by a 394-27 vote, would establish an FCC task force to address such details. If approved by the Senate and enacted, the task force, made up of industry stakeholders, academics, and government representatives, would compile a report on proposed industry standards as well as any weaknesses found in the technology.
Gilley told Daily Energy Insider that the wireless industry has had the commission’s ear in recent years and has it eager to accommodate a bright future of brisk equipment sales and an economic impact in the billions of dollars, including lucrative auctions of many bands within the full 6 GHz range. “Part of the larger push at the FCC is to get more spectrum out there for 5G communications.”
“No one disagrees that more spectrum is needed,” Gilley said. “But they (FCC) weren’t careful enough about it and are disregarding the current 6 GHz users.”
The FCC hasn’t completely disregarded the needs of those current users; however, the agency may have relied too heavily on the consumer interests who have insisted that their simulations show that 6G Wi-Fi modems will operate in small areas and won’t drown the signals from the utility transmitters. However, the website of the Consumer Technology Show, the organizers of the influential annual Consumer Electronics Show, boasts that 6G Wi-Fi can transmit larger loads of data at four times the speed of a current home network and “extend the range of connectivity to outside the home or office.”
Southern Company decided not to take the consumer sector’s word for it and conducted its own testing to see how off-the-shelf 6 GHz routers performed when switched on next to the company’s 6 GHz microwave link between Columbus and Fortson, Ga. The testing occurred along a 9.5-mile corridor that was described as typical of utility microwave layouts and featured test runs at locations such as Fred’s Tire, The Wing Stop and a Hyatt Place Hotel.
The report on the experiment filed with the FCC last June differed from the results of previous testing performed by the consumer electronics companies: “This new testing confirmed that FCC-certified unlicensed LPI devices will cause harmful interference to licensed fixed microwave systems, including those used to monitor and protect the electrical grid and for public safety operations.”
“They conducted real-world tests,” Gilley said. “It seems the earlier modeling understated the level of interference.”
Gilley added that ignoring the situation would have unacceptable consequences for utilities that would be forced to find other ways to monitor their grids. “These are major installations and not like simple radios,” he said. “They are line-of-sight and there may not be alternate frequencies they can use. There could be 10,000 links that will have to be replaced to accommodate the FCC.”
Utility companies may be “forced to find other ways to monitor their grids”?! As if their grids and their “Smart” Meters (electric, gas, and water) weren’t problematic enough already! Adding insult to injury, the high costs associated with purchasing, installing, operating, and replacing “Smart” Meters and grids is usually passed on to customers through rate increases. A free online documentary, Take Back Your Power, provides more despicable details.
As noted now and previously, the Biden administration supports 6G deployment (see 1, 2) as well as the deployment of other unsafe technology (5G, Wi-Fi, etc.) despite increasing American opposition and expert warnings. In fact, the Infrastructure Bill was written to fund additional 5G deployment which experts warn could also cause dangerous interference issues with aviation equipment (see 1, 2) and weather forecasting satellites!
Activist Post reports regularly about 6G, 5G, utility “Smart” Meters and other unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
- Wireless Information Network
- Americans for Responsible Technology
- 5G Information
- 5G Space Appeal
- Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
- Smart Meter Harm
- Smart Grid Awareness
- Smart Meter News
- Take Back Your Power
- The People’s Initiative
- EMF Safety Network
- Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
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