Tech Company Offers Spectrum-Sharing Plan to Help Public Safety

Axon offers a compromise to protect Wi-Fi users.

Tech Company Offers Spectrum-Sharing Plan to Help Public Safety
Photo by Ian Baldwin

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2024 – A wireless technology company is offering a spectrum-sharing compromise designed to provide law enforcement with new electronic tools to protect the public.

Axon Enterprises – which requested waivers from the Federal Communications Commission for a few wireless surveillance devices to operate in the popular Wi-Fi band – laid out a plan to avoid occupying busy channels, following pushback by an industry group and a public policy think tank.

In its latest filing to the FCC on July 5, Axon stated that its devices would operate on four channels, prioritizing the less congested outer channels and leaving the busy middle channels unused, protecting Wi-Fi devices in the process.

Axon said it will work with law enforcement to ensure the use of the two congested middle channels were reduced. The battery-powered devices will have a handheld wireless controller that will signal not to use the congested middle channels on its display screen. The middle channels will nevertheless remain accessible to law enforcement.

“Law enforcement’s use of Axon’s devices will be both infrequent and brief, but will provide a critically important tool to assist first responders in preserving life,” Axon said.

Axon's requested waivers would cover three types of wireless devices intended for law enforcement in hazardous situations: a drone, a robot, and a stick-mounted camera.

NCTA - The Internet & Television Association reached out to the FCC in March and April, urging the agency to deny Axon’s initial request to use the band out of concern for potential Wi-Fi interference.

NCTA said in its filing that Axon’s wireless devices would be operating at the same frequencies as a popular Wi-Fi band at 1,000 times the power the FCC would typically permit.

Likewise, New America echoed NCTA’s concerns in a letter written by Wireless Future Director Michael Calabrese.

“Axon’s proposed… surveillance technology would be unnecessarily disruptive to the public’s use of the U-NII-3 band, which remains the most heavily trafficked Wi-Fi spectrum,” Calabrese said.

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