With the backing of a court victory, the FCC can now open up 1,200 MHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band for anybody to use. This is the biggest upgrade in 20 years to the Wi-Fi network in your home!
The new wireless standard is Wi-Fi 6E, coming to replace the Wi-Fi 6 that has been in use for many decades. Routers based on the new standard will work at 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and an additional 6 GHz bands. It will enable up to seven Wi-Fi streams to broadcast at maximum capacity simultaneously without interfering with one another.
With Wi-Fi 6E, which has a similar top speed as Wi-Fi 6 in theory, you will get a faster and more consistent connection. This is in addition to less interference from other devices and nearby networks. It will enable 1 to 2 Gbps connection speeds on Wi-Fi, similar to what mmWave 5G promises, according to information provided by the Wi-Fi Alliance to The Verge.
AT&T was not happy with the FCC’s decision to make Wi-Fi 6E available for unlicensed use. It argued that the agency had not considered possible interference with the microwave links that are important to running its network infrastructure. This is in connection to the wireless technology AT&T uses to connect its cell towers to the internet.
The mobile carrier wanted the FCC to reserve a portion of the 6 GHz bandwidth for the exclusive use of 5G networks. However, the FCC that low-power indoor use protects AT&T’s microwave links from interference. It also pointed out that devices with standard power can incorporate frequency control to prevent interference.
Reacting to the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Brendan Carr, FCC commissioner, said, “Today’s opinion also underscores the FCC’s role as the nation’s lead spectrum regulator. It does so by once again affirming the FCC’s assessment of the risks of harmful interference to existing operations. U.S. leadership in wireless depends on stakeholders continuing to abide by Congress’s long-standing decision to place these determinations squarely within the FCC’s expertise.”
The FCC’s decision to throw the use of Wi-Fi 6E open was made under Ajit Pai, appointed by the past administration. However, the new chairwoman, Jessica Roseworcel, supports the move. She commented on the court decision:
“Today’s decision is an important step in clearing the way for next generation Wi-Fi access at a time when it is needed most. In this pandemic, so much of modern life has migrated online. 6GHz Wi-Fi will help us address this challenge by offering more access in more places, faster speeds, and better performance from our Wi-Fi networks. It will also help us in our mission to connect everyone, everywhere … It is encouraging to read the Court’s strong approval of this work, and we look forward to addressing on remand the narrow issue that the Court identified.”
Other bodies supporting the ruling include the WifiForward, representing companies such as Google, Comcast, and Amazon. It said, “The Commission’s decision was smart, well-researched, unanimous and bipartisan. We look forward to consumers getting faster, lower latency Wi-Fi operations in the band, which will include Wi-Fi 6E and eventually next-generation Wi-Fi 7.”
The Wi-Fi Alliance itself put out a statement that reads in part, “Today’s court decision removes the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the use of the 6 GHz band, allowing Wi-Fi Alliance and our members to expedite delivery of urgently needed Wi-Fi 6E broadband connectivity solutions.”
Wi-Fi 7 is coming and promises up to 46 Gbps transfer rates, but it is not expected until 2024.