Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that makes the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed spectrum use while protecting existing incumbents. Opening the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use enables the deployment of next-generation Wi-Fi, called Wi-Fi 6, as well as other important services necessary for effective 5G deployment.
The development of Wi-Fi 6 will play a critical role in the rollout of 5G, allowing hundreds of devices to remain connected to a single Wi-Fi network while maintaining superfast speeds. Additionally, unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band will help close the digital divide by offering home gigabit Wi-Fi internet access in rural areas and other low-income communities — an especially important goal during the current pandemic. Public Knowledge looks forward to working with the FCC to make the next generation of wireless technology available for all Americans — no matter where they live.
The following can be attributed to Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“We applaud the FCC for making the 6 GHz band open for unlicensed use. The FCC has looked at all of the evidence and crafted rules that protect the incumbents in the band while permitting innovation in wireless technology. Consumers will potentially see concrete benefits from these new rules as early as this holiday season, when new equipment capable of using the entire 6 GHz band enables home devices to run at gigabit speeds.
“We recognize that in every spectrum fight, incumbents may feel as if they have been wronged. However, the career staff and the FCC engineers the Commissioners rely on to make the right call have a longstanding reputation of understanding and evaluating interference claims. Interference decisions are technical — not political — and the FCC has taken an appropriately cautious approach. Public Knowledge has a long history of fighting to protect critical network services, and we would not support this item if we believed it put vital services at risk.
“As the coronavirus crisis has shown, overloaded Wi-Fi remains a weak link in our internet ecosystem. At the same time, Wi-Fi hotspots can play a vital role in bringing broadband to those otherwise unconnected. Opening the entire 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi 6 deployment will help connect more Americans with faster and better internet at a time where being connected means more than ever. We look forward to working with the FCC on making faster broadband a reality for more consumers in the near future.”
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