FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band.
If adopted, the draft Report and Order would authorize two different types of unlicensed operations: standard-power in 850-megahertz of the band and indoor low-power operations over the full 1,200-megahertz available in the 6 GHz band. An automated frequency coordination system would prevent standard power access points from operating where they could cause interference to incumbent services.
“From Wi-Fi routers to home appliances, Americans’ everyday use of devices that connect to the Internet over unlicensed spectrum has exploded,” said Chairman Pai. “That trend will only continue. Cisco projects that nearly 60% of global mobile data traffic will be off-loaded to Wi-Fi by 2022. To accommodate that increase in Wi-Fi demand, the FCC is aiming to increase the supply of Wi-Fi spectrum with our boldest initiative yet: making the entire 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use. By doing this, we would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five. This would be a huge benefit to consumers and innovators across the nation. It would be another step toward increasing the capacity of our country’s networks. And it would help advance even further our leadership in next generation wireless technologies, including 5G.”
The Chairman’s draft rules will be voted on by the Commission at the FCC’s Open Meeting on April 23.
Some industry reaction:
Aruba’s Keerti Melkote: “The runaway success of Wi-Fi in the last couple decades represents the power of unlicensed spectrum, open standards and unfettered innovation. The FCC’s forward-looking action to allocate the largest block of mid-band spectrum for unlicensed use builds on its success in creating the Wi-Fi industry and promises to usher in the next era of unconstrained American innovation for the global markets.”
Boingo’s Dr. Derek Peterson: “The expansion of Wi-Fi into the 6 GHz band provides exciting new real estate that lays the foundation for continued wireless innovation. The significant swath of contiguous spectrum is well suited to facilitate Wi-Fi’s skyrocketing growth, and will enable Boingo to maximize the benefits of neutral host Wi-Fi 6 deployments at major airports, stadiums, military bases and multifamily communities.”
Broadcom’s Henry Samueli: “Today’s announcement by Chairman Ajit Pai that the Commission will vote to open 1,200 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 6 GHz band positions the U.S. to lead the world in next-generation 5G services. All Americans could soon have Wi-Fi in a pristine, wireless superhighway to deliver digitally immersive experiences including in education and telemedicine.”
Cisco’s Chuck Robbins: “All of us at Cisco congratulate FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for his leadership in moving forward with a 6 GHz spectrum plan that will be the backbone of American jobs and the economy. Across the country, Wi-Fi networks on unlicensed spectrum are supporting first responders, hospitals, telehealth, remote learning, and remote work at unprecedented levels. Chairman Pai’s decision to unleash the full potential of Wi-Fi alongside 5G could not come at a more important time. We’re excited to help build an internet for the future and look forward to the FCC’s vote.”
CTIA’s Brad Gillen: “We support the FCC’s efforts to make the lower half of the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use and will continue to work closely with the commission to ensure rigorous protections for licensed services already existing in the band. While the FCC has done a remarkable job freeing up critical licensed spectrum for 5G, the United States faces a growing mid-band deficit. It is essential that the FCC and the administration develop a roadmap to close this deficit before moving forward with plans to give away the full 1200 MHz in the 6 GHz band and further limit our few remaining options.”
Qualcomm’s Steve Mollenkopf: “Qualcomm fully supports the FCC’s plan to allocate the 6 GHz band for advanced unlicensed operations at its April 23rd meeting. We applaud FCC Chairman Pai and his fellow FCC Commissioners for this initiative, which will provide American consumers with better, faster broadband for so many uses, including telemedicine, remote learning and working, fully immersive augmented and virtual reality, & the Internet of Things. In February, we demonstrated a full suite of Wi Fi 6E products ready to start using this large new swath of spectrum. We are also optimizing other exciting new technologies for this large swath of spectrum, including the next version of 5G and next generation Wi-Fi. Today’s announcement is another important step taken by the FCC to ensuring American leadership in the key 21st Century enabling technologies.”