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FCC’s decision on unlicensed spectrum ushers in era of Wi-Fi 6


The US regulator has granted access to an additional 1200MHz of the unlicensed 6GHz band while Europe dithers.

The Verge commented, "This is the biggest spectrum addition since the FCC cleared the way for Wi-Fi in 1989, so it’s a huge deal".

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance too hailed the move by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as “a watershed moment for connectivity and innovation. The 5.925 – 7.125 GHz band will supercharge connectivity to affect every aspect in our lives, such as remote education, telemedicine, work and commerce, gaming, and social media.”

It foresees the additional bandwidth will be used for IoT and new use cases, as well as in sectors as diverse as healthcare, education and manufacturing.

Better indoors

Martha Suarez, President of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, said, “It will [also] help network service providers to deliver the quality of service that end-users expect in real-time and extend connectivity to rural areas.”

Initially the bandwidth will be used to provide indoor coverage via low power access points, standard power access points and various kinds of devices run by clients. This decision includes a further regulatory proposal for very low power portable devices.

Rural coverage

Rural Americans and ISPs will also benefit from access to the 6GHz band: the authorization of standard power outdoor operations through an Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) mechanism in the UNII-5 (5.925 - 6.425 GHz) and UNII-7 (6.525 – 6.875 GHz) bands, will enable wireless broadband providers to greatly improve Internet access in rural areas. 

“After many years of advocating for spectrum sharing in this band, we are excited for many end users to finally experience the high-quality connectivity that the 6 GHz band provides for Wi-Fi 6," Suarez added.

Europe lags

The process to harmonise and release unlicensed spectrum in Europe is complicated and drags on and on, but it is possible that the European Commission could make some available this year.