US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepared to vote on a proposal to open the entire 6GHz band for unlicensed use, a move officials said would help meet rapidly rising demand for Wi-Fi services.
First floated in October 2018, the plan would set aside 1200MHz of spectrum for unlicensed operations, including low-power use cases across the entire band and higher power operations in a smaller 850MHz lot.
The vote is scheduled for 23 April.
In a statement FCC chairman Ajit Pai highlighted projections that nearly 60 per cent of global mobile data traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi networks by 2022, adding adoption of the proposal would “effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five”.
“Ultimately, I expect that 6GHz unlicensed devices will become a part of consumers’ everyday lives,” he added in a blog, naming industrial sensors, connected appliances, machines, meters and wearables as examples.
The move drew support from technology companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Qualcomm, as well as the Wi-Fi Alliance and Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which argued it would spur innovation and provide critical relief for increasingly congested Wi-Fi bands.
Operators, however, opposed the move, with industry group CTIA casting the plan as a missed opportunity to licence key mid-band spectrum for 5G.
In a statement, CTIA EVP Brad Gillen noted a dearth of mid-band spectrum in the US and called on the FCC to “develop a roadmap to close this deficit before moving forward with plans to give away the full 1200MHz in the 6GHz band and further limit our few remaining options”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back