NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Spectrum & Wi-Fi

The Future of Commercial Spectrum

Wireless spectrum has transformed connectivity. As fixed and mobile networks continue to converge and get even busier, the airwaves that power our wireless digital lives are increasingly critical. Since consumer appetite for connectivity is continually growing, our country requires a smart, balanced approach to spectrum management so technologies like Wi-Fi and other wireless innovations can run efficiently.

woman doing yoga

Why is unlicensed spectrum so important?

Unlicensed bands are portions of spectrum open to any use and by anyone, as long as devices follow certain technical rules. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are just two examples of technologies that use unlicensed spectrum. Unlicensed bands offer the most room to innovate, lowering barriers to entry for new technologies and creating more economic activity and new services.

Priorities for a Smart Spectrum Future

Explore the Possibilities in the 3.1 GHz Band. Currently, the 3.1-3.45 GHz band is primarily used by the military, but has been identified as an opportunity for commercial use given its prime location as mid-band spectrum. Federal and commercial stakeholders are studying its potential for commercial use and how the spectrum could be shared given the extensive federal use in the band. As wireless technologies continue to grow, innovative solutions allow spectrum to be shared, maximizing efficient use of this finite resource. 

Raise the 6 GHz Indoor Power Limit. The FCC’s decision to permit unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band will significantly enhance the possibilities for next-generation Wi-Fi. However, the power levels the FCC adopted for indoor use are restrictive and could result in less coverage and slower speeds than possible under the latest Wi-Fi technologies. The FCC should authorize higher power indoor unlicensed operations to ensure 6 GHz delivers on the promise of faster whole-home Wi-Fi.

Open the 7 GHz Band. Currently the 7 GHz band is allocated for federal government use, yet it provides an opportunity to meet the growing demands of Wi-Fi use. Allowing unlicensed use in the 7 GHz band on a non-interference basis could allow government users to stay in place while also facilitating rapid commercial access

Embrace the 5.9 GHz Band. The FCC recently made 45 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use in the 5.9 GHz band. This band’s adjacency to the most widely used Wi-Fi band allows manufacturers to bring enhanced broadband connectivity and speeds to market. The FCC could bolster these consumer benefits by moving forward with proposed technical rules that would allow Wi-Fi to operate with fewer restrictions. 

woman talking on phone and using tablet

Wi-Fi Adds Economic Value

U.S. jobs generated by Wi-Fi with manufacturers and service providers
More than half of U.S. internet traffic transits a Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi will add $1.58 trillion to the economy by 2025.
Source: Wi-Fi Forward

Cable Is a Mobile Competitor

Cable operators are now part of the mobile marketplace

Cable is now the fourth largest wireless carrier in the country, with  Comcast, Charter and Cox providing mobile phone service, giving Americans more choices than ever before. By owning CBRS spectrum and leasing capacity from existing mobile networks, cable ISPs offer service as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). Millions of American consumers are saving money with lower prices and bundled services.

A man uses a cell phone outside while skateboarding
person using wifi

Why is shared spectrum so important?

Although spectrum is a limited resource, efficient sharing is now possible to enable multiple users to rely on the same frequencies.  Shared spectrum models offer the opportunity for innovation, economic growth, and expanded commercial use while balancing incumbent interests.