Dec. 12, 2019
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a proposal that would open up unused wireless spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for next-generation Wi-Fi use while maintaining a portion of the band for auto safety communications. The reallocation would provide much-needed capacity for Wi-Fi, as the current Wi-Fi bands have become increasingly congested due to surging use and mobile carriers offloading traffic.
As the country prepares for its wireless future through next-generation Wi-Fi and mobile 5G services, increasing the availability of unlicensed spectrum is the key to faster and better Wi-Fi. The 5.9 GHz band has been allocated for auto safety communications since 1999, but the spectrum has been left unused for those 20 years.
OTI has long advocated for the FCC to open up the 5.9 GHz band to help create one large contiguous band of unlicensed spectrum—a “Wi-Fi superhighway.” The FCC’s move today, combined with its proposal to open up the 6 GHz band, would do just that.
The following quote can be attributed to Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at New America’s Open Technology Institute:
“Opening a portion of the unused transportation band for next-generation Wi-Fi marks a significant win for consumers. By opening the lower portion of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed public use, the FCC is paving the way for gigabit-fast and more affordable Wi-Fi and 5G-capable services in homes and businesses across the country.
“Expanding the unlicensed bands that power Wi-Fi is an essential part of a truly robust 5G wireless ecosystem. Wi-Fi already generates hundreds of billions of dollars for the U.S. economy each year as it’s become the primary way that consumers and business access data on mobile devices. High-capacity Wi-Fi is also increasingly essential to schools, libraries, and other community anchor institutions.
“This proposal is also a win for consumers because it promotes a new generation of auto safety communications that promises to be integrated with 5G networks.”