Loading...

AT&T Hauls FCC Into Court Over Trump-Era Wi-Fi Expansion

September 21, 2021 by Dan McCue
AT&T Hauls FCC Into Court Over Trump-Era Wi-Fi Expansion
People pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

WASHINGTON – Lawyers for AT&T and a host of utility providers and public safety officials squared off against the FCC in a District of Columbia courtroom on Friday in a battle over a Trump-era regulatory change that expanded the use of Wi-Fi on the 6GHz spectrum band.

At issue in the AT&T led lawsuit is whether the traditional users of the 6GHz band are having their operations affected by new Wi-Fi users entering the spectrum.

They are particularly concerned about the proliferation of Wi-FI 6, the next generation of home wireless service, the appeal of which is its ability to handle large amounts of data.

In April 2020, the Federal Communications commission adopted a set of new rules expanding unlicensed operations in the 6GHz band, ushering in the Wi-Fi 6 era. 

Then-FCC Chair Ajit Pai was a particularly gung ho proponent of the move, believing the new spectrum policy would spur the growth of the Internet of Things for connecting appliances, machines, meters, wearables, smart televisions, and industrial sensors for manufacturing.

The following December, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a request for a stay on the FCC decision, the commission authorized the first Wi-Fi device for use in the spectrum.

Wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon use the band for backhaul — basically, to connect a cell site with a core network — while others use it to monitor the electric grid and other critical communications. 

They and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials-International, utilities and others say there aren’t enough protections for incumbents as the band is opened to new unlicensed users.

Though the appellate court denied the request for an emergency stay, it has continued to hear arguments challenging the FCC’s decision. 

In its most recent filing in the case, AT&T argues Wi-Fi users in the 6GHz band are “very likely to result in harmful interference at unpredictable places and times.” 

Tech and campus companies like Comcast, Charter Communications and Facebook support the opening up of the 6GHz band, seeing it as freeing up unused airwaves and improving customer experience for their products.

Speaking shortly after the FCC’s unanimous vote in 2020, Tony Werner, president of TPX, technology, product, Xperience at Comcast Cable, said the decision “would quickly  benefit consumers who are using wi-fi now more than ever to work and learn from home, to watch shows and to videoconference and to shop and get their news.

“The order making 1200 megahertz of unlicensed spectrum available in the 6GHz band will dramatically improve Wi-Fi performance and capacity, and will protect existing users of the spectrum. It is a significant step on the path to deploying next generation, gigabit Wi-Fi services to complement our world class gigabit broadband networks,” Werner said.

Also noteworthy is the fact that lawyers for the Biden administration and acting FCC chair, Jessica Rosenworcel, have defended that Trump-era FCC order. 

“The FCC’s reasoned decision in this case, based on ample evidence in the record, provides more than enough justification for its actions,” the agency argued in a recent court filing.

In fact, the FCC is scheduled to vote on new rules later this month that would implement an automated frequency coordination system in the 6GHz band. The AFC system  is specifically intended to prevent interference to incumbent operations.

The D.C. Circuit judges are David Tatel, a Clinton appointee, Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee, and Justin Walker, a Trump appointee.

In The News

Health

Voting

Telecom

Major Airlines Cancel, Change Flights to US Over 5G Dispute

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Major international airlines canceled flights heading to the U.S. or changed the planes they're... Read More

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Major international airlines canceled flights heading to the U.S. or changed the planes they're using Wednesday, the latest complication in a dispute over concerns that 5G mobile phone service could interfere with aircraft technology. Some airlines said they were warned... Read More

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
AT&T, Verizon to Delay 5G Rollout Near Airports

WASHINGTON — AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday agreed to delay their rollout of new 5G services near some unspecified airports... Read More

WASHINGTON — AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday agreed to delay their rollout of new 5G services near some unspecified airports over ongoing concerns that moving those services to a new band could cause flight disruptions. Debate has been raging for months over whether — and if... Read More

January 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
Biden Applauds Telecoms' Decision to Delay 5G Deployment Over Aviation Concerns

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday applauded AT&T and Verizon Communications’ decision to agree to a two-week delay in... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday applauded AT&T and Verizon Communications’ decision to agree to a two-week delay in deploying 5G technology using a bandwidth airlines use to navigate in low-visibility situations. Verizon and AT&T bought a portion of the so-called C-Band last February for... Read More

December 28, 2021
by Dan McCue
DC Circuit Upholds FCC Decision to Clear Path for Next-Gen Wi-Fi

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2020 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to free up... Read More

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2020 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to free up the 6 GHz band for next-generation Wi-Fi. Writing for the unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge David Tatel... Read More

December 14, 2021
by Dan McCue
Ex-FCC Chairs Voice Concerns Over FAA Stance On 5G

WASHINGTON — Six former chairs of the Federal Communications Commission accused aviation regulators of needlessly trying to derail new 5G... Read More

WASHINGTON — Six former chairs of the Federal Communications Commission accused aviation regulators of needlessly trying to derail new 5G mobile services slated to start next month. As previously reported by The Well News, a roiling dispute has been going on for more than a year... Read More

November 16, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Expeto CEO Says Evidence-Based Business Cases Will Drive 5G Innovation

WASHINGTON — 5G technology is already in the business of saving lives through tangible examples of its deployment improving health... Read More

WASHINGTON — 5G technology is already in the business of saving lives through tangible examples of its deployment improving health and safety measures and efficient automation, said Expeto CEO Michael Anderson during Fierce Wireless’s E5G Show’s second day. While enterprises may be aware of the benefits... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version