Qualcomm Technologies is raring to go in terms of supporting Wi-Fi at 6 GHz. While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deliberates how to handle the band, Qualcomm said it’s already done an over-the-air demonstration of Wi-Fi 6E using 6 GHz spectrum, underscoring its ability to extend its Wi-Fi portfolio into the band—pending regulatory approval, of course.
The demo was filmed in the lobby of the corporate office in Qualcomm’s home town of San Diego. “No shielding, all live, over the air, no cabling,” a spokesperson said.
“This new technology will enable massive new wireless capacity for the next generation of high bandwidth wireless connectivity,” the company said via a press release. “By supporting numerous 160 MHz channels, advanced modulation techniques and opportunity to extend highly differentiated end-to-end Wi-Fi 6 feature implementations, Qualcomm Technologies is primed to deliver powerful, reliable and immersive Wi-Fi 6E experiences for the next generation.”
Qualcomm said its latest FastConnect 6800 subsystem is capable of delivering a new class of Wi-Fi speed—approaching 1.8 Gbps—with reliability and responsiveness, even in densely congested environments. Extending its technology leadership into the 6 GHz band can open the door for mobile speeds in excess of 3 Gbps, the company said.
The 6 GHz band currently is used by microwave services to support utilities, public safety and wireless backhaul, but the FCC in 2018 began looking at opening up 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the band for different types of unlicensed uses. Indeed, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has pointed out that studies have shown that sharing the band with unlicensed operations is feasible and can put massive amounts of new spectrum into the hands of consumers.
Qualcomm’s interest in the 6 GHz band is well documented as it’s been part of a consortium lobbying hard for getting the band set up for unlicensed use. The consortium, which includes Apple, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Google and others, wants the FCC to quickly resolve outstanding issues related to the band and get it set up for commercial services to use it on an unlicensed basis throughout the band.
Mobile operators, however, want access to more mid-band spectrum, and CTIA is urging (PDF) the agency to allocate some of the 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the band for licensed use. It’s asking the FCC to issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on licensing the upper portion of the 6 GHz band (6.525-7.125 GHz) and moving incumbent users to another band.
“Indeed, the issue of how to achieve the appropriate balance of licensed and unlicensed services in the 6 GHz band has been an issue since stakeholders first sought to reform the 6 GHz band, as recognized in a 2017 licensed/unlicensed stakeholder coalition letter,” CTIA told the commission in a recent filing.
Vendors that already make Wi-Fi products for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands say it’s a no-brainer to make products for the 6 GHz band. Broadcom used the CES show in January to showcase its suite of 6 GHz access point systems-on-a-chip solutions for enterprise and residential deployments, where it also received a shoutout from FCC Chairman Pai.