Michael O’Rielly, a commissioner at the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), suggested the agency take up a proceeding to open the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi use after a study commissioned by tech titans showed coexistence with incumbent services is possible.
In a meeting with FCC Commissioners, RFK Engineering presented the results of an interference study ordered by Apple, Facebook, Google and Qualcomm, among others. The report concluded Wi-Fi services in the 6GHz band would not cause harmful interference with existing services in the band if the Wi-Fi networks use established interference mitigation techniques and abide by rules similar to those in place for the 5GHz Wi-Fi band.
O’Rielly said in a Twitter post the study answers many questions around technical interference issues. While he acknowledged more work needs to be done before any ruling is made, O’Rielly added the issue “needs to be a summer FCC NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking]”.
The US currently uses spectrum in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for Wi-Fi, while the 6GHz band is reserved primarily for fixed satellite service and fixed microwave links.
In response to an FCC inquiry exploring flexible use between 3.7GHz and 24GHz, a coalition of technology companies argued in October 2017 the 6GHz band should also be opened up for Wi-Fi use, citing a shortage of unlicensed spectrum. Apple, Broadcom, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony, and others committed to producing 6GHz-enabled devices “in a timely manner” if the FCC opens up the band.
“Unlicensed spectrum lowers barriers to entry, expands consumer connectivity, and allows more enterprises to take advantage of new business processes, thereby driving innovation and investment across the economy. By opening the 6GHz band to unlicensed use, the Commission can support these advances,” they stated.