WISP Industry Hails FCC Proposal to Unleash 6 GHz Band for Unlicensed Use

By Cambium Networks

Washington, DC, April 1, 2020 – WISPA applauded today’s FCC announcement that it would vote on a Report and Order opening up 1,200 MHz of unlicensed 6 GHz spectrum, including 850 MHz of standard power use subject to automated frequency coordination (AFC).
WISPA has long pushed for this day. “There has not been a significant release of unlicensed spectrum for two decades, and this new spectrum will provide the rocket fuel to truly enrich and realize the dreams of rural 5G, as well as other wireless innovation yet to be invented,” stated Claude Aiken, President and CEO of WISPA. 
The spectrum will allow small rural innovators such as WISPs to bring exciting new broadband services to more rural Americans.  When combined with other spectrum such as mmWave, fixed 5G can be brought out to the hinterlands.  If employed in a point-to-multipoint model commonly used by fixed wireless providers, 100/20 service and much higher speeds can be achieved.  AFC further ensures these services can be realized without harmful interference to incumbents in the band.  And, the cost-effectiveness of fixed wireless – which can be deployed almost overnight at about 15% of the cost of fiber or other wired technology – means this new spectrum will soon play a major role in reducing the digital divide.  
“The Commission’s allocation of this new swath of spectrum makes it clear: the unlicensed ecosystem is no longer an understudy to licensed wireless services,” noted Aiken.  “They are co-equals, working together to boost the entire wireless-driven economy, and offering real competition where it is needed.” 
Added Aiken, “The Commission has done some groundbreaking work for all Americans in freeing up this valuable, underutilized resource.  All the Commissioners must be commended for their farseeing leadership on this.”
Other leaders in the WISP industry – fixed wireless providers and vendors alike – hailed the action, too:
Atul Bhatnagar, CEO, Cambium Networks: “Cambium Networks is pleased with the FCC’s decision to advance greater utilization of the U-NII-5 and 7 bands – it is a significant event for fixed wireless broadband access. The additional spectrum in the 6 GHz band will bring broadband access to the under-connected across the US, particularly in underserved rural markets. It will also enhance the effectiveness of programs like CAF II and RDOF. As we have all experienced in reacting to the COVID-19 crisis, the need to enable remote learning, work from home initiatives, and telemedicine via broadband access is real and critical to the health of our country. I would also like to recognize WISPA for their leadership in recognition of the need and opportunity, and their energetic and professional advocacy with the FCC to advance the initiative.”
Nathan Stooke, CEO, WISPER ISP: “It is great to see how the FCC and WISPs are working together to bring new broadband service to rural Americans.  6 GHz spectrum will foster a whole new range of broadband solutions for our customers.  The FCC is very smart to unleash this new potential – it is greatly needed.”
Sasha Sigal, President, CTIconnect: “We are so pleased that the FCC has made this spectrum available to U.S. operators at such a crucial time in our history.  Through their efforts, additional access to broadband will make a lasting impact on rural communities.  CTIconnect is proud to play a role by supplying operators with wireless hardware, enabling them to utilize this very valuable spectrum and get more broadband connectivity to the customers who need it most.”
Jeff Kohler, Co-Founder, Rise Broadband: “Rise Broadband applauds the FCC’s effort to make a meaningful portion of 6 GHz spectrum available to deliver broadband services.  At a time when more and more rural households are turning to WISPs for broadband, the Order could not be more timely and needed.”
Zach Peres, Vice President, KwiKom Communications​: “As a rapidly growing wireless internet service provider out of Iola Kansas, serving about 10,000 customers, 850 MHz of spectrum represents more than double the amount of spectrum that we currently have available in 900, 2.4, 3.5, and 5GHz.  It will be a tremendous leap forward in our ability to service line of sight customers in-town and rural as well as increase availability to faster bandwidth with ever-growing technology!”
Brian Young, President, IPpay: “This additional unlicensed spectrum has a monstrous ripple effect to the Fixed Wireless Ecosystem. IPpay, which operates in the Financial Services industry and serves thousands of rural ISPs, will be able to support the growth of Internet providers expanding their operations in this spectrum, as well as their business customers who are finding that they need an unprecedented amount of payment processing and financial services.”
Joe Falaschi, President, e-vergent: “Consumers will benefit greatly from the FCC’s strong leadership to allocate more unlicensed spectrum.  6GHz spectrum in the hands of fixed wireless operators will allow rural Americans access to faster Internet service.  E-vergent is excited by the possibilities this action creates and what it can do to help close the digital divide in rural America.” 
Jon Pederson, CTO, Midco: “The 6 GHz band offers an unprecedented opportunity to increase both the broadband capacity to the home using higher capacity fixed wireless, and wi-fi capacity in the home by using wider channels.  A varied group of communications providers, including WISPs, cable companies, rural telcos, and their customers, would benefit greatly from the ability to use the 6 GHz band.  6 GHz is crucial to helping companies like Midco close the digital divide because it enables us to deploy Fixed 5G-capable equipment to offer even faster speeds to more customers.”
Todd Harpest, External Affairs & Regulatory Director, MetaLINK Technologies: “MetaLINK Technologies appreciates the FCC’s consideration to make available 850 MHz of the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use.  The 6 GHz spectrum would be ideal for helping to close the digital divide in rural America where higher Internet speeds are desperately needed for those working and/or studying remotely.  Further, as a member on one of the FCC’s Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force working groups, I envision that 6 GHz could provide the capacity required for farmers to connect their farms to the Internet, while using other spectrum to exchange a plethora of data gathered from IoT and other devices to further advance the industry.”
Joe Royer, President & GM, Royell Communications: “Royell Communications is excited to learn the FCC may release 850 Mhz of new spectrum for PMP use. Currently Royell utilizes all the available unlicensed spectrum in our 5 county service area. This amount of additional spectrum would enable us to overlay our current territory and greatly increase bandwidth to our customers. We look forward to the release of this new spectrum.”
Daniel White, Co-Founder, Atheral: “Spectrum is the lifeblood of the Fixed Wireless Internet Service Provider; they are the entrepreneurs that have built small businesses in the rural communities they live with their own money to provide competitive broadband options.  This significant expansion of unlicensed spectrum will ensure that more Americans will benefit from the benefits of the 5G dream instead of the hype reserved for those that live in metropolitan areas, which is increasingly critical in times of emergency.”
WISPA’s approximately 850 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 6 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.
Mike Wendy

Published April 2, 2020