Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski told an audience at the Consumer Electronics Show that the FCC “is moving to bring increased speed and capacity to WiFi networks by increasing the amount of unlicensed spectrum for WiFi.” He also said that the first steps will be taken in February to free up as much as 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5-GHz band. “This would be the largest block of unlicensed spectrum to be made available for expansion of WiFi since 2003,” the commission said in a release.
Genachowski said, “We all know the frustration of WiFi congestion at conferences and airports.” He added the commission expects the addition of up to 195 MHz “to relieve congested WiFi networks at major hubs like convention centers and airports. It will also help in homes as tablets and smartphones proliferate and video use rises.” The FCC said the increased capacity will “free up the unlicensed spectrum available for ultra-high-speed, high-capacity WiFi, known as ‘Gigabit WiFi,’ by up to 35 percent.”
Genachowski added, “When the FCC helped pioneer WiFi nearly 30 years ago, through an innovative spectrum policy that relied on unlicensed use, no one knew the potential it held. But that FCC-created platform for innovation gave us cordless phones, Bluetooth and WiFi, benefitting consumers and our economy massively. We’ll keep nurturing today’s WiFi as we also develop a next generation of spectrum policies to drive our mobile future for our innovators and our economy.”
The FCC noted that the 5-GHz band “is already used for other purposes by both federal and non-federal users,” and as a result, the effort to free up additional capacity “will require significant collaboration with other federal agencies. Chairman Genachowski committed the commission to move expeditiously to complete the proceeding.”