Having established a leadership position for automated frequency control (AFC) in the realm of CBRS, Federated Wireless is making a determined move to establish a beachhead in the emerging area of unlicensed use of the 6 GHz frequency band.
The Arlington, Virginia-based technology company announced this week that its Spectrum Controller platform, already widely deployed for FCC-sanctioned use in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) frequency range, is being extended to cover spectrum in the 6 GHz band.
The 6 GHz band is currently set aside for licensed users, including wireless carriers and MVNOs, who have deployed thousands of point-to-point microwave links to backhaul network traffic. Broadcasters, meanwhile, conduct incumbent electronic newsgathering (ENG) in the band.
Cable operators, however, are trying to expand their WiFi domain. MSOs, and pretty much everyone involved in the Wi-Fi industry, are particularly interested in accessing mid-band spectrum as interference in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands continues to increase.
In late 2018, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule-making (NPRM) for unlicensed use of this spectrum. That NPRM defines rules for an automated spectrum controller that would facilitate shared use of the band, opening it up to new use cases. This could include enabling data transfers of up to 10 Gbps and supporting high-density device environments including public venues and multi-dwelling units.
The FCC is expected to finalize its rules for 6 GHz unlicensed operation this year, with countries in the European Union and Asia set to follow suit in 2022. The National Association of Broadcasters is among the organizations within the broadcast industry pushing back on this move, fearing interference.
For its part, Federated Wireless said its new Spectrum Controller functionality is currently deployed in trials and is expected to be available for commercial use by the end of 2020.
“Development of an AFC to enable unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band has been something of a moving target for the wireless industry, with some saying it is technically too difficult to develop and deliver at scale, and others seeing it as necessary to protect incumbent users,” said Monica Paolini, principal and wireless industry consulting firm Senza Fili, quoted in Federated Wireless’s product announcement. “The Federated Wireless Spectrum Controller shows how an AFC can make spectrum sharing more efficient and foster adoption of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G in the 6 GHz band.”