Daily Energy Insider: Sen. Murkowski urges FCC to give utilities, first responders priority on spectrum band

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow emergency responders and utilities to continue to have priority usage of the 6 Gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band.

Murkowski’s plea comes after FCC officials published a draft rule April 1, allowing unlicensed devices to utilize the 6 GHz band. It is currently occupied by only electric and natural gas utilities, along with other licensed users like first responders.

Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wrote a letter to FCC Chair Ajit Pai asking him to delay the draft rule until the nation has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our water, electricity, and natural gas utilities cannot spare the resources to deal with a complex proposal from the FCC that could dramatically change the reliability of their essential communications during an emergency, nor can police and fire departments,” Murkowski wrote to the FCC chair. “In addition to contending with the coronavirus pandemic, our nation is entering peak extreme weather season where the electric sector must devote sufficient resources to mitigating the damages from natural hazards such as wildfires and hurricanes.

Murkowski added that with unlicensed devices on the same band as mission-critical utility and emergency response communications, it could cause interference that is detrimental to network reliability.

“Secure communication is a mission-critical function for the energy industry and must be protected to ensure a reliable, resilient electric grid,” she wrote.

By:  Dave Kovaleski
Source: Daily Energy Insider