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."
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 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.
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