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US Looks to Make 6GHz Band Available for Unlicensed Use

April 3, 2020

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai 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.

Wi-Fi Alliance commends FCC Chairman Pai on the momentous decision to sustain America’s technological leadership, maximize public benefit of the 6 GHz spectrum resource, and unleash the power of ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity by moving ahead with the 6 GHz order. 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.

Wi-Fi Alliance member support for 6 GHz proposal:

“The addition of 6 GHz Wi-Fi will have a profound impact on consumers and operators alike. Given the state of the world, the importance of Wi-Fi and overall connectivity, is more evident than ever before. 6 GHz Wi-Fi brings more spectrum and larger channel bandwidth, which will increase capacity to support even more devices and faster speeds. This is key as more people work from home, and rely on home video conferencing for work, distance learning, telemedicine, and more. AirTies looks forward to the day we start integrating 6 GHz solutions for operators to help enhance home Wi-Fi .” – Metin Taskin, CTO of AirTies

“The runaway success of Wi-Fi in the last couple decades represents the power of unlicensed spectrum, open standards and unfettered innovation. The FCC’s forward-looking action to allocate the largest block of mid-band spectrum for unlicensed use builds on its success in creating the Wi-Fi industry and promises to usher in the next era of unconstrained American innovation for the global markets. Through Chairman Pai’s leadership, together with hard work by the other Commissioners and FCC engineers, this order will enable consumers and businesses to collaborate and innovate at the rapid pace of emerging applications and the exponential growth of Wi-Fi connected devices.” – Keerti Melkote, president of the Intelligent Edge for Hewlett Packard Enterprise and founder of Aruba Networks

“Linksys has been on the forefront of the latest technological innovations for over 30 years. In this unprecedented time where connectivity and strong Wi-Fi is more important than ever, people deserve to have latest Wi-Fi speeds, seamless internet connectivity, advanced parental controls and more. We’re beginning to see an inflection point for healthcare and telehealth services. As digital healthcare and usage of telemedicine grows, we want to make sure that patients have the proper network connectivity to support stable, clear video streaming – which can be accomplished with 6 GHz. We applaud Chairman Pai for moving ahead with the 6 GHz order and are committed to delivering the highest ‘next-generation’ performance technology into our products.” – Jen Warren, VP Global Communications, Belkin International

“The expansion of Wi-Fi into the 6 GHz band provides exciting new real estate that lays the foundation for continued wireless innovation. The significant swath of contiguous spectrum is well suited to facilitate Wi-Fi’s skyrocketing growth, and will enable Boingo to maximize the benefits of neutral host Wi-Fi 6 deployments at major airports, stadiums, military bases and multifamily communities.” – Dr. Derek Peterson, chief technology officer, Boingo

“Today’s announcement by Chairman Ajit Pai that the Commission will vote to open 1,200 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 6 GHz band positions the U.S. to lead the world in next-generation 5G services. All Americans could soon have Wi-Fi in a pristine, wireless superhighway to deliver digitally immersive experiences including in education and telemedicine. Broadcom is thrilled at the prospect of enabling the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard in the 6 GHz band this year. In the past few months, we announced a full ecosystem of Wi-Fi 6E devices for routers and smartphones, while also demonstrating the real-life speed and latency benefits of this new band. More importantly, we are actively working with partners to bring over 2 Gbps of wireless data speeds to your palms and your homes soon. We commend Chairman Ajit Pai and his colleagues for their elegant vision for expanding the use of this critical band to include unlicensed technologies, and are excited for the opportunities this presents to shape the next 20 years of our connected world.” – Henry Samueli, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Broadcom

“CableLabs strongly supports the Chairman’s proposal to unleash the next generation of Wi-Fi innovation by making the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed technologies. This proposal will help to ensure that Wi-Fi connectivity keeps pace with the cable industry’s 10G broadband platform. Broadband and Wi-Fi have become even more integral in daily life as Americans have shifted to a new reality of remote work, learning, and health services. Fully enabling the 6 GHz band for these services into the future is an important step for the Commission to take at this time.” – Rob Alderfer, Vice President of Technology Policy at CableLabs

“We welcome the strong market demand for the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi. This will ensure a better user experience for all Wi-Fi users, providing much needed additional spectrum. CEVA has contributed to the incredible growth of the Wi-Fi market, including Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6 and now Wi-Fi 6E. We are proud to have licensed our RivieraWaves Wi-Fi IP and platforms to numerous major semiconductor companies addressing a broad range of market segments including wearables, medical, IoT, smart home, access points and gateways.” said Ange Aznar, VP & GM of Wireless IoT BU at CEVA

“CommScope commends Chairman Pai and the FCC for their plans to make the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed operation. Along with initiatives such as CBRS and C-Band, the Commission’s actions are providing the essential mid-band spectrum (licensed, unlicensed, and shared) that enable the U.S. to lead the transition into the 5G era. The wireless industry needs more spectrum to enable wider channel bandwidths which in turn will usher in the multi-gigabit age. This decisive move by the FCC will give Wi-Fi and other unlicensed services the capacity and capability to drive new and innovative applications. The current COVID-19 situation vividly illustrates how a high-bandwidth, high-reliability, highly accessible network is as critical as electricity to survive and thrive in society.” - Morgan Kurk, CTO, CommScope

“Global demand for Wi-Fi has never been so strong, and its need never so critical. Our Wi-Fi solutions are enabling telemedicine, distance learning, and remote work for customers around the world, helping people everywhere maintain some sense of normalcy, and even progress, while we respond to a pandemic. And our Rapid Outdoor Connectivity Kit, a quick response, cloud-managed Wi-Fi 6 mesh network solution, is in high-demand among healthcare facilities to support pop-up clinics, testing facilities and quarantine sites. Without the power of Wi-Fi, our lives and livelihoods would be at stake. We commend the FCC for moving forward on making 6 GHz available so Wi-Fi can continue delivering its value, especially in uncertain times.” – Perry Correll, Director of Product Management at Extreme Networks

“Intel commends the FCC for opening the 6 GHz spectrum band for unlicensed operation, which will significantly improve Wi-Fi for all Americans. We deeply appreciate the efforts of FCC staff who have worked tirelessly assessing the complexities associated with the 6 GHz band, and eagerly await the FCC addressing this important topic at its April 23rd meeting. Our nation’s reliance on digital connectivity has become more apparent than ever, and this Report and Order will enable significant new capacity, ensuring a solid future growth path for the Wi-Fi ecosystem relied upon by millions of homes and businesses. Intel looks forward to continue working with our partners to drive innovative use cases.” – Gregory Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group, Intel

“LitePoint applauds the FCC’s decision to move forward with allocating unlicensed spectrum in the 6 GHz-band for Wi-Fi. In these trying times, as Wi-Fi is rapidly evolving from a nice-to-have technology to being a necessity to keep businesses and students connected from home, the spectrum in the 6 GHz-band will help to unlock Wi-Fi’s true potential by providing more capacity and faster speed. At LitePoint, we have been working with our chipset partners to provide test solutions for Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E that accelerate product development, so that the next generation of Wi-Fi 6E enabled products can ramp up quickly following FCC’s decision.” – Adam Smith, Director of Product Marketing at LitePoint

“As a manufacturer of high-performance Wi-Fi products for consumer homes, NETGEAR is always looking at new technologies to improve upon the experience for our customers and the network capabilities of the Smart Home of tomorrow. Consumer demand for high-bandwidth applications continues to grow and we are excited about the prospects of adding the 6 GHz clean spectrum to the home wireless network.” – Sandeep Harpalani, Vice President of Product Management for NETGEAR

“The demand for robust and high-bandwidth wireless connectivity is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Today’s surge in remote working has further accelerated our connectivity needs and driven the expectation of seamlessly working between our offices, homes, and even automobiles. Wi-Fi 6 is the right technology to scale to meet these challenges and future growth when coupled with additional spectrum. NXP supports FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to make more unlicensed spectrum available and we believe that Wi-Fi 6E can safely and effectively co-exist with both existing and other emerging technologies within the 6GHz band.” – Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager of connectivity at NXP Semiconductors

“With availability of the 6 GHz band, new Wi-Fi 6E infrastructure and client devices will emerge, providing consumers even better speed, efficiency and performance in the Home, Enterprise, Automotive and Industrial segments. We anticipate this new spectrum will enable tremendous opportunities for Wi-Fi innovations and economic benefits.” – Irvind Ghai, Vice President of Marketing, Quantenna Connectivity Solutions at ON Semiconductor

As Philips works to increase production of critical equipment in the fight against COVID-19 to meet our customer demands for connected monitoring and therapy solutions, it also understands the criticality of Wi-Fi for providing the framework for essential telehealth and other vital health services that are relied on by people around the world. The FCC decision to move forward on 6 GHz is an important step for making unlicensed spectrum available that will be used by patients and practitioners to help deliver even more of these innovative health services, and to ensure Wi-Fi can continue bringing essential services to hospitals and other medical facilities. – Phil Raymond, Head of Wireless Competency & Solution Architecture CoE, Philips Healthcare

“Qualcomm joins Wi-Fi Alliance in offering our full support of the FCC’s planned ruling to allocate the 6 GHz band for unlicensed operation and in applauding Chairman Pai & the Commissioners. We are ready to go with a full suite of Wi-Fi 6E products spanning mobile, personal computing, automotive and networking using this new spectrum, as we demonstrated in February. The 6 GHz band offers unmatched opportunities for Wi-Fi, unlocking the full potential and power of the next generation of high-performance devices,” – Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, connectivity and networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

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