FCC proposes new rules to allow very low power devices in the 6 GHz band.
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WASHINGTON, September 27, 2023 – FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel today proposed new rules to allow very low power devices to operate in the 6 GHz band alongside other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. These rules, if adopted at the Commission’s October Open Meeting, will spur an eco-system of cutting-edge applications, including augmented and virtual reality, that will help businesses, enhance learning opportunities, advance healthcare opportunities, and bring new entertainment experiences.
“Countless innovations that have made our lives easier and more convenient are dependent on unlicensed spectrum. The 6 GHz band has already improved the Wi-Fi that we rely on every day for work, school, entertainment, and innovation.” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “I hope my colleagues will join me to foster a new wave of innovation in devices that will benefit consumers in exciting ways and bolster U.S. leadership in advanced wireless technologies.”
The 6 GHz band is an important haven for next generation Wi-Fi operations. As long advocated by then-Commissioner Rosenworcel along with then-Commissioner Mike O’Reilly, the FCC, in recent years, expanded unlicensed use in 1,200 megahertz of spectrum between 5.925 and 7.125 GHz. That FCC decision has helped usher in Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, and played a major role in the growth of the Internet of Things. Today’s proposal builds off this success to allow for other types of operations in the band.
The proposal circulated to the Commissioners today includes new rules, would take further comment, and issues a clarifying order. The rules, or Report and Order, would authorize very low power (VLP) operations in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 portions of the 6 GHz band totaling 850 megahertz of spectrum. Operations at power levels up to -5 dBm/MHz could occur anywhere, indoors or outdoors, without any need for a frequency coordination system.
Very low power devices to use higher power levels
The Commission would also take further public comment on expanding operation of these very low power unlicensed devices to the remainder of the 6 GHz band. In addition, the Commission will also propose to permit very low power devices to use higher power levels while employing a geofencing system to protect licensed incumbent operations in the band.
The FCC would also seek comment on additional measures it could take to both expand unlicensed device usage throughout the 6 GHz band while protecting incumbent users from harmful interference. Lastly, the Commission would adopt an order to address one narrow question remanded from the D.C. Circuit Court when the court otherwise approved the agency’s 6 GHz rules