FCC Takes Back WiFi Spectrum To Supercharge 5GHz WiFi

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to release a small amount of spectrum in the 5 GHz WiFi band. The automotive industry had held on to this WiFi spectrum for use in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

Based on this voting, the FCC has agreed to take back 45 MHz of WiFi spectrum, in the 5 GHz band, from the automotive industry. Originally, the FCC had set this spectrum aside to be used as part of automobile-safety technologies.

WiFi spectrum in the 5.850 GHz to 5.925 GHz band was allocated for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). This technology is a form of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication. DSRC provides an early warning to drivers of imminent dangers on the road.

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However, the automotive industry had been sitting idle on this spectrum for almost two decades now. In fact, the majority of cars sold in the US today do not have DSRC modules.

The FCC estimates that out of 274 million registered vehicles in the US, roughly 15K vehicles have onboard DSRC modules.

With this latest (though controversial) vote, the FCC has pulled back and split up this WiFi spectrum. Reserving one part of this deallocated WiFi spectrum for use by the automotive industry.

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However, the second part of 45 MHz, from 5.850 GHz to 5.895 GHz will be allocated for home WIFI use. The FCC predicts that this additional 45 MHz spectrum in the 5 GHz band will supercharge WiFi broadband.

What does this vote mean for Home WiFi Broadband Consumers?

In fact, this additional 45 MHz WiFi spectrum lies adjacent to the 5 GHz channels used in home broadband today. Thus, the FCC predicts that these high throughput channels will help with giga-bit WiFi connectivity for consumers.

After this vote, the FCC also announced that the indoor unlicensed users can use this 45 MHz additional WiFi spectrum immediately. Though, the outdoor unlicensed use will be allowed on a special case to case basis.

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Home WiFi routers with 5 GHz WiFi would already have support for this additional 45 MHz spectrum. Alternately, a small firmware update would enable home WiFi routers to support this additional spectrum.

This expansion is good news for home WiFi broadband consumers. Once WiFi routers have received support for this spectrum, consumers would notice a small increase in speeds as well as reliability.

In April this year, the FCC had voted to open up 1200 MHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band, which theoretically offers better speeds. Following up with this latest WIFI vote, the FCC has proven that it is still WiFi consumer-centric.

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