FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday that the FCC will propose new rules allowing Wi-Fi devices to operate in the 6 GHz band. The ruling – expected to be finalized next year – will have a significant impact for users of wireless (which means 99.9% of the population) in general, and for multifamily residential building residents in particular.
The FCC in short order will issue a so-called ‘NPRM’ or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking describing in detail what the FCC plans to do. According to Claus Hettig, Executive Director of the WiFi-Now organization, “Experts believe the final 6 GHz ruling likely will materialise already next year”.
The end result of this 6 GHz process – which was initiated by the FCC last year – is that it “could make more than 1 gigahertz of new unlicensed spectrum available,” said Ajit Pai in his statement. This action would triple the amount of bandwidth available for WiFi in the US which has remained unchanged for more than a decade.
Allocating this staggering amount of new spectrum to WiFi will increase the capacity of devices and the speeds of transmission of all connections, especially in dense urban environments. As Claus Hetting points out: “even for seasoned industry experts like ourselves it is hard to imagine the momentous impact of such a ruling on – well – everyone and anyone touched by WiFi across America, which means pretty much the entire population of the USA”.
For multitenant building management, this announcement is especially exciting. WiFi has begun to be used for augmentation of smartphone services in buildings in which signal penetration is an issue, for high speed data connections such as video streaming, and for the operation of building management services such as HVAC control, water conservation and video surveillance. All of these uses would have placed strain on existing WiFi frequency plans – now no more.