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LEVER Home > WiFi Wireless News and Tutorials > FCC announce +195MHz of 5GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi - 802.11ac

FCC to open more 5GHz Spectrum for Wi-Fi - impact on 802.11ac

FCC to open more 5GHz Spectrum for Wi-Fi use

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will act soon to allow spectrum sharing between Wi-Fi service providers and licensed government users of spectrum in the 5GHz range - and thereby by make 195MHz of additional spectrum in the 5GHz band available for Wi-Fi use.

This 195MHz of additional unlicensed spectrum will increase the 5GHz spectrum currently available for Wi-Fi by as much as 35% - and offer users improved HD video capabilities.

The announcement was made by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2013) in Las Vegas on 9 January 2013.

The FCC, in coordination with other federal agencies, is leading an effort to free up unlicensed spectrum for ultra-high-speed, high-capacity Wi-Fi solutions - which will be mostly based on IEEE 802.11ac and increasingly referred to as "Gigabit Wi-Fi."

Why is more 5GHz spectrum needed?

For future Wi-Fi deployments, we need more 5GHz spectrum - to allow more Wi-Fi channels in the 5GHz band, and also wider channels.

Currently, 802.11n WiFi only supports 20MHz or 40MHz channels. But 802.11ac will support 80MHz and 160MHz channels - which deliver higher end-user data rates and also the capacity to support more users on a Wi-Fi access point.

Having more 5GHz spectrum is essential, to allow more and wider 802.11ac channels - for higher end-user data rates and greater Wi-Fi network / hotspot capacity, particularly in high density situations such as airports, conferences, convention centres, etc.

Users at home will also benefit in the future - where 5th generation Wi-Fi in the home could support multiple users and devices, including HD video streaming and high-speed file sharing.

The FCC has also taken steps to release the potential in next-generation unlicensed spectrum - including spectrum in lower frequencies that would enable Wi-Fi operation over longer distances and with better penetration through barriers such as walls.

For example, in 2010, the Commission provided for operation of next-generation unlicensed devices in the unused spectrum between broadcast TV channels, called white spaces. In addition, a significant amount of low-band unlicensed spectrum is being be recovered from TV broadcasters - particularly in the UK - although this is going to auction for the operators of the future LTE and 4G mobile networks.

LEVER's view on FCC announcement - 195MHz Spectrum

LEVER's view is that the FCC, the IEEE 802.11ac committee, and chipset manufacturers, will need to work in unison and act quickly.

Right now, 802.11ac is a draft standard. But the first 802.11ac access points and 802.11ac routers have already hit store shelves - see our initial evaluation of the SOHO-grade Asus RT-AC66U 802.11n/802.11ac router.

We don't want 802.11ac products hitting the streets that quickly become out of date - simply because they can't use the new 195MHz of 5GHz spectrum.

802.11ac WiFi Consultants

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