Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today circulated draft rules permitting unlicensed devices to operate in the 6 GHz band.
The proposed rules would make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use. Unlicensed devices would share this spectrum with incumbent licensed services under rules that are crafted to protect those licensed services and to enable both unlicensed and licensed operations to thrive throughout the band. The Chairman’s draft rules will be voted on by the Commission at the FCC’s Open Meeting on April 23.
“From Wi-Fi routers to home appliances, Americans’ everyday use of devices that connect to the Internet over unlicensed spectrum has exploded,” said Chairman Pai. “That trend will only continue. Cisco projects that nearly 60% of global mobile data traffic will be off-loaded to Wi-Fi by 2022. To accommodate that increase in Wi-Fi demand, the FCC is aiming to increase the supply of Wi-Fi spectrum with our boldest initiative yet: making the entire 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use. By doing this, we would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five. This would be a huge benefit to consumers and innovators across the nation. It would be another step toward increasing the capacity of our country’s networks. And it would help advance even further our leadership in next generation wireless technologies, including 5G.”
If adopted, the draft Report and Order would authorize two different types of unlicensed operations: standard-power in 850-megahertz of the band and indoor low-power operations over the full 1,200-megahertz available in the 6 GHz band. An automated frequency coordination system would prevent standard power access points from operating where they could cause interference to incumbent services.
A Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes to permit very low-power devices to operate across the 6 GHz band, to support high data rate applications including high-performance, wearable, augmented-reality and virtual-reality devices. Specifically, the Further Notice would seek comment on making a contiguous 1,200-megahertz block of spectrum available for the development of new and innovative high-speed, short-range devices and on power levels and other technical and operational measures to avoid causing interference to incumbent services.
"Ensuring necessary unlicensed spectrum access is critical for Wi-Fi – which now more than ever – keeps us connected, supports our communications infrastructure, and delivers major economic benefits. Wi-Fi Alliance and its members are ready to deliver new 6 GHz use cases and urge the Commission to support the Chairman’s proposal," the Wi-Fi Alliance said.