The WLAN Association — whose purpose is to “define industry best practices and quality assurance in the delivery of Wi-Fi “ — has announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to expand WiFi into the 6GHz band.
This will open up 1,200MHz of new bandwidth for next-gen Wi-Fi 6E devices with antennas and chipsets capable of tapping into the extra spectrum. Apple has supported the move
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.
“From Wi-Fi routers to home appliances, Americans’ everyday use of devices that connect to the Internet over unlicensed spectrum has exploded,” says FCC Chairman Ajit 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.”
Apple was one of several tech companies to call on the FCC to permit them to use this frequency for what are known as Very Low Power (VLP) applications. 9to5Mac notes that the tech giant is likely to use it in two ways:
First, it would be ideal for higher-bandwidth mobile hotspots, like tethering an iPad to a 5G iPhone. This would ensure that the iPad could take full advantage of the much faster speeds available from mmW 5G.
Second, this high-bandwidth link would be perfect for connecting AR/VR goggles to smartphones. Apple is believed to be working on its own smart glasses commonly referenced as Apple Glasses.