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On Monday, the FCC will act on a proposal to free up 100 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz frequency band for outdoor unlicensed broadband uses such as Wi-Fi. If adopted, the Commission’s action will mark a critical milestone in our continuing efforts to alleviate Wi-Fi congestion and to satisfy growing demand among businesses and consumers for new applications and services. It’s not a complete answer to our long term needs, but it is a bold, bipartisan first step in the right direction.
Wi-Fi is far and away the most common way data is carried, but it wasn’t always this way. When the technology was first implemented, Wi-Fi was designed for a limited number of simple devices within a constrained space. But today, Americans crave connectivity both in their home and on-the-go, and everything is Wi-Fi enabled — not just computer devices like smartphones and laptops, but things like shoes, watches, and even dog fences. We’re well on our way to the foretold Internet of Things and the “junk” spectrum where Wi-Fi originally took root is already saturated.
But like all great challenges, the solution is one of will. If we can just take existing spectrum – especially in the 5 GHz band – and make more of it accessible to public technologies like Wi-Fi, we can fend off the spectrum crunch and bring gigabit Wi-Fi speeds to the American public.
Take a look at this video. It explains the basics of unlicensed spectrum and what the future holds if we release more useable frequencies.
At a speech at the National Press Club earlier this month, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said of opportunities in the 5 GHz band, “We should seize this opportunity right now…If we do, we could effectively double unlicensed bandwidth in the 5 GHz band overnight. That will mean more unlicensed service–and less congestion on licensed wireless networks.”
Monday’s FCC meeting should lead to more spectrum being made available, but there’s still more work to be done. Check out our spectrum page to see stats, infographics and articles on the future of Wi-Fi and what the tech industry is doing to make sure our future of devices will connect to the fastest Wi-Fi network on earth.