FCC Approves Automated Frequency Coordination Systems for the UNII-5 and UNII-7 Bands

The FCC has approved seven applications to operate Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) systems to prevent harmful interference from unlicensed operators in the U-NII-5 (5.925-6.425 GHz) and U-NII-7 (6.525-6.875 GHz) frequency bands. The approved operators are Broadcom, Comsearch, Federated Wireless, Qualcomm, Sony, the Wi-Fi Alliance, and the Wireless Broadband Alliance. These seven AFC systems are now permitted to manage access to the 6 GHz spectrum. An additional AFC application from C3Spectra remains pending and subject to public comment due March 15, 2024.

Transmitting Equipment Must Be Authorized Prior To Coordination

This action will permit wireless service providers to deliver commercial service in these frequency bands on an unlicensed basis. A critical prerequisite to deploying sites through the AFC, however, is the FCC’s authorization of the transmitting equipment to be used. At this time, very few 6 GHz transmitters have been approved for standard power outdoor use, although additional approvals are expected soon. Accordingly, the first step toward implementing service at 6 GHz is to determine the equipment approval status of access points and fixed client devices providers may be using on an experimental basis or intending to use commercially in the UNII bands. Once confirmed, operators may seek to coordinate transmit sites through one of the AFC systems.

AFC Interference Complaint Process Required by April 23, 2024

The continuation of the AFC authority also remains conditioned on the approved providers putting in place a reporting process to handle complaints of harmful interference regarding unlicensed operations coordinated through the AFC systems. The operators will be required to cease their operations if notice of this reporting mechanism is not provided to the Commission by Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

For more information, contact an attorney in our Broadband, Spectrum, and Communications Infrastructure practice group.