Paving the Way for Unlicensed Standard Power Operation in the 6 GHz Band through Automated Frequency Coordination

In April 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a groundbreaking decision that would reshape of wireless landscape by opening a substantial portion of the 6 GHz band (5.925 – 7.125 GHz) for operation of Standard Power unlicensed devices under the management of Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC).

In response to this historic decision, the Wireless Innovation Forum and WiFi Alliance took the lead to jointly establish the operational framework for AFC systems and devices. After months of close collaboration, earlier this spring these organizations submitted the requirements and test plan for AFC devices to the FCC.

On June 20, 2023, the requirements and test plan for AFC systems were submitted. Federated Wireless was among the key contributors to both of these incremental milestones and the overall achievement of a standards framework, playing a pivotal role by leveraging our technical expertise and regulatory leadership.

Next Steps

With the comprehensive package now in the hands of the FCC, the next crucial step is for the FCC to complete its review and issue a public notice, which will give the green light for AFC system operators and Standard Power device manufacturers to commence lab testing activities. The industry eagerly awaits this important step, as it represents the final regulatory hurdle before the commercial implementation of unlicensed Standard Power operations in the 6 GHz band.

Unprecedented Collaboration

Defining the operational requirements, database management tools, security measures, interface design, device specifications, and testing plans for AFC systems and Standard Power devices required unparalleled cooperation among various stakeholders in the ecosystem.

As part of this collaborative effort, Federated Wireless helped bring together incumbents, system operators, cable companies, AFC system providers, and device manufacturers.  Working closely with industry partners, Federated Wireless facilitated a comprehensive dialogue that allowed all interested parties to voice their concerns and contribute to the development of robust operational guidelines. By fostering an environment of trust and open communication, Federated Wireless played a vital role in ensuring the industry achieved a harmonious consensus, creating a solid foundation for the deployment of AFC systems and Standard Power unlicensed devices.

Federated Wireless develops cutting-edge solutions for AFC systems and devices. By ensuring that operational requirements are met, database management tools are efficient, and security measures are robust, Federated Wireless has helped to pave the way for a smooth and reliable implementation of unlicensed Standard Power operation.

As early as 2021, significant partners began signing up to work with the Federated Wireless AFC solution. Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise, selected Federated to provide the AFC service required to operate its future outdoor, higher power, and ruggedized radio products in the 6 GHz band. In just 2023 alone, Airspan announced it will use Federated Wireless’ AFC system for Wi-Fi 6E solutions, and Mediatek linked with Federated Wireless to complete AFC testing on Wi-Fi 7 and 6E chipsets.

As well, in February, Cisco announced it will integrate the Federated Wireless AFC into its 6 GHz capable access points to enable enterprise transformation with high-capacity, high-performance shared spectrum network access.

The FCC’s decision to open up the 6 GHz band for unlicensed Standard Power operation marked a significant milestone in the wireless industry. Through the unwavering commitment of an interdisciplinary team that included Federated Wireless, industry and regulators came together to establish the operational framework for AFC systems and devices. The collaboration and cooperation among various stakeholders is unprecedented, resulting in a clear path to robust operational guidelines and adoption of AFC for 6 GHz standard power moving forward.

Learn more about how Federated Wireless is enabling the Wi-Fi 6E and 6 GHz ecosystem here.

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