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FCC boosts Wi-Fi 6 spectrum 5-fold

The Federal Communications commission has opened up a wide swath of wireless spectrum for unlicensed use by Wi-Fi devices, which will lead to Wi-Fi access points that have greatly expanded capacity.

It’s a huge victory for the Wi-Fi industry, as the ruling means that the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi just about quintupled in an instant. That means big, spacious channels – and a lot more channels overall – that can handle a lot more data and a lot more connections at the same time, according to Aruba vice president of wireless strategy and standards Chuck Lukaszewski.

“Overnight, you’re going to see an additional gigabit per second or more of potential throughput,” he said.

That’s a major upside, certainly, even if “overnight” might be a slightly optimistic view of when Wi-Fi 6E – the trade name for the new version of Wi-Fi that will take advantage of the new spectrum – hits the market. While some of the necessary standards haven’t yet been finalized by the IEEE, the basic ability to use 6GHz frequencies is already written into the existing Wi-Fi 6 specification.

Broadcom director of product marketing and government affairs Chris Szymanski said that the main technical hurdle to implementing Wi-Fi 6E will be new radios, but that his company is among those that has already been designing and building compatible silicon.

“I expect that the FCC will provide guidance on how to certify devices in the next few months,” he said. “I expect product available in the US in the late fall before the holidays.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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