Wi-Fi community fetes ‘historic’ FCC decision on 6 GHz

The allocation ultimately will provide seven new channels for Wi-Fi. (Pixabay)

Scores of companies and entities are singing the praises of the FCC’s move Thursday to open up 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use.

WifiForward, whose partners include Google, Broadcom, Comcast, Charter Communications, Boingo Wireless and others, commended the agency.

“Wi-Fi connectivity is absolutely essential to each of us, and the FCC’s bipartisan leadership today will make it easier for people to stay productive and informed in communities of all sizes across the country,” the organization said in a statement. “Opening the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use will strengthen our Wi-Fi networks, make connections faster, supercharge future innovation and create significant economic value for our country.”

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The Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA), which represents a who’s who of big tech companies and Wi-Fi chip suppliers, said the FCC’s vote to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in 6 GHz available for unlicensed use equates to opening the “flood gates” of Wi-Fi benefits for American consumers, enterprises and the economy.

“The FCC is the first regulatory body to take the courageous step of making 6 GHz available for unlicensed use, bringing an indispensable spectrum resource to increase Wi-Fi’s economic contributions,” WFA said in a press release. “6 GHz will pave the way for faster, higher-capacity, and lower latency Wi-Fi devices and networks.”

RELATED: FCC votes to make 1,200 MHz at 6 GHz available for unlicensed

Wi-Fi 6 is the current generation of Wi-Fi, and WFA came up with the term “Wi-Fi 6E” to designate Wi-Fi 6 devices that can operate in 6 GHz, so it’s “extended” into that band. A Wi-Fi 6-based device can work in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, but only Wi-Fi 6-based devices will be operating in the 6 GHz band.

WFA said its members are demonstrating their readiness to move quickly into the band before the end of the year. IDC expects initial Wi-Fi 6E products to enter the market this year, with the first Wi-Fi 6E access points available by the fourth quarter of 2020.

In 2021, Wi-Fi 6E will gain traction with the adoption of chipsets that target flagship smartphones, PCs, TVs and VR devices, according to IDC.

“The Wi-Fi industry has really galvanized around this 6 GHz opportunity in an unprecedented way,” Kevin Robinson, senior vice president of marketing at WFA, told FierceWireless. “Now you’re getting this nice clean spectrum in 6 GHz,” which provides unique benefits, including seven new super-wide channels. “It raises the bar and will give you a very optimal experience in that band.”

The WFA’s certification program for product interoperabilty is expected to be available in early 2021, but it’s typical for access points to enter the market before the certification gets underway.

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