Are You Prepared for FCC Changes to Your 6 GHz Microwave System?

August 20, 2020
Arn Hayden
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FCC Allowing Unlicensed Access

Effective July 27th the FCC is allowing unlicensed access in the 6 GHz band. This band is often used by microwave systems by public safety and utility companies for mission critical communications.  However, this ruling applies to authorizing unlicensed standard-power access points. These access points will operate under the control of an automated frequency coordination system in portions of the 6 GHz band. And opening the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed indoor low power access points.

Impact of 6 GHz Ruling

The ruling frees up more than 1200 MHz of additional bandwidth for next-gen Wi-Fi devices along with new antennas and chipsets.  “To accommodate that increase in Wi-Fi demand, the FCC is aiming to increase the supply of Wi-Fi spectrum with our boldest initiative yet: making the entire 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use,” reads the FCC’s announcement.  “By doing this, we would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five.”

What does this mean for public safety and utility companies? 

The short answer is that we do not know yet.  However, APCO, American Public Power Association; American Water Works Association; Edison Electric Institute; Jim Matheson, National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association and the Utilities Technology Council have all challenged this proposal. Subsequently, these groups are citing concerns about interference and/or congestion that threatens mission critical communications.


At a minimum, public safety and utility customers should audit their systems. Doing so will establish a baseline of the performance of its current configuration. In fact, this will help dispute any issues that may impact critical communications.  Here is a quick plan:

  • Identify licenses in the 6 GHz band.
  • Physically validate the accuracy of your licensed 6GHz links. Audit your links using tools such as, high-precision GPS and laser range finder.  Coordinate with the FCC ULS database with this information.  In many cases there are errors that could make these licensed links more vulnerable to unlicensed devices. 
  • Deploy a monitoring solution. This will provide a baseline with regards to performance, interference, etc.
  • If interference arises in the future, you have a baseline performance standard to refer to as a precedent.

Most companies can’t prevent network outages. Castle Rock Microwave’s customized wireless solutions keep your network online so you never miss a mission-critical communication. For a free evaluation of our audit services and microwave solutions, please contact at Castle Rock Microwave or call (303) 358-7039.

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