Appeals court rules FCC can open 6 GHz band for 6E Wi-Fi


A ruling (pdf) released Tuesday by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld an April 2020 FCC ruling to open 1,200 MHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band for a use without license. Unlicensed means anyone can use it, as long as they do it responsibly, covering uses like your future home Wi-Fi 6E network.

While 6 Wi-Fi connections allow more reliable and efficient use of the same spectrum used over the past two decades, especially when multiple devices are connected, 6E Wi-Fi routers will operate at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. plus the new 6 GHz. bandaged. This has enough room for up to seven full capacity Wi-Fi streams to stream to the same area at a time without interfering with each other or using existing spectrum.

Beyond that, there is already work on a future standard, known as IEEE 802.11be or Wi-Fi 7. This could further optimize the use of the new band with even wider channels at 320 MHz, maximum transfer rates of 46 Gbps, etc., but it is not. expected to be completed until 2024 (pdf).

Right now, while 6 GHz Wi-Fi has the same theoretical top speed as 5 GHz Wi-Fi, the extra space means that instead of having so much interference from other devices and nearby networks, you’ll have a faster and more consistent connection. Last year, a representative of the Wi-Fi Alliance said The edge that this should allow 1-2 Gbps connections over Wi-Fi, similar to what you see now with mmWave 5G.

AT&T opposed the FCC’s plan, saying the commission failed to identify and resolve possible interference with “tens of thousands of microwave links essential to maintaining network infrastructure,” in speaking of the wireless technology that keeps many cell sites connected to the Internet at large. In a folder identified by Light reading, AT&T said, “The 6 GHz FS [fixed service] is the only band suitable for long distance transmission, regularly supporting trips between 10 and 50 miles and, in some cases, even longer distances. Mobile carriers preferred a plan in which the FCC would auction off part of the 6 GHz bandwidth to be used only by their 5G networks. The FCC said low-power indoor use protects licensed 6 GHz technology like microwave links and AT&T TV broadcasts from interference, while “standard power” devices used indoors. and outside could include automated frequency control to avoid interference.

AT&T did not comment on the result today. However, at the same time that this case is decided, a similar objection from the FAA is being used against the FCC to suspend its ability to start using C-band spectrum for 5G. As an FAA spokesperson said The edge, “Landings during periods of low visibility could be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an aircraft’s radio altimeter, without other mitigation measures in place. “

Harold Feld, senior vice president of advocacy group Public Knowledge, said: “The DC Circuit has reaffirmed that it will not question the technical expertise of the FCC when the agency balances the needs of legacy licensed users. and new innovations in Wi-Fi. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr agrees, as his statement said: “Today’s opinion also underscores the role of the FCC as the nation’s primary spectrum regulator. It does so. by once again affirming the FCC’s assessment of the potential for harmful interference to existing operations. US leadership in wireless depends on stakeholders who continue to comply with the long-standing ruling of the United States. Congress to place these determinations within the purview of the FCC.

However, as we noted in our explanation of Wi-Fi 6E last year when the FCC made that decision, opening up spectrum for unlicensed use doesn’t just reserve it for Wi-Fi. be used by other devices and connections, such as 5G. Sometimes mobile operators use unlicensed spectrum to augment their licensed spectrum with technology that speeds up connections, and it could happen again.

The new president of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, continued to support this measure which had been decided under her predecessor, Ajit Pai, appointed by Trump. She said in a statement that “today’s decision is an important step in paving the way for next-generation Wi-Fi access when it is needed most. In this pandemic, much of modern life has migrated online. 6 GHz Wi-Fi will help us meet this challenge by providing more access in more places, faster speeds and better performance of our Wi-Fi networks. It will also help us in our mission to connect everyone. world, everywhere … It is encouraging to read the Court’s strong endorsement for this work and we look forward to addressing the narrow issue the Court has identified in pre-trial detention.

This narrow issue she mentions is a concern raised by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) about interference in the 2.4 GHz spectrum that the FCC has not directly addressed, but supporters of the plan seem confident that it will be overcome.

WifiForward, an industry group representing companies like Amazon, Google, Comcast and Arris, welcomed today’s decision, saying: “The Commission’s decision was smart, well-documented, unanimous and bipartisan. We hope consumers enjoy faster, low latency in-band Wi-Fi operations that will include Wi-Fi 6E and eventually next-gen Wi-Fi 7. The Wi-Fi Alliance which helps establish and deploy the new standards had a similar reaction, stating: “Today’s court ruling removes regulatory uncertainty surrounding the use of the 6 GHz band, allowing to Wi-Fi Alliance and our members to expedite the delivery of needed Wi-Fi 6E broadband connectivity solutions.


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