‘Urgent’ call for more Wi-Fi spectrum

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With over half of all the connections to the Internet starting or ending with Wi-Fi access and demand for broadband connectivity surging worldwide, Wi-Fi urgently needs access to the 6 GHz frequency band, concludes a new paper published by the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) and Policy Impact Partners (PIP), which represent multiple digital companies.

Focused on Europe, the Middle East and Africa (ITU Region 1), the paper, How to realise the full potential of 6 GHz Spectrum, calls on the EU to ensure that the EC Decision on licence-exempt access to the lower 6 GHz band is adopted without delay, and then implemented in national regulations early in 2021. The paper suggests this is crucial for Europe to alleviate congestion in existing licence-exempt spectrum and to support the highly-capable Wi-Fi 6E devices that will be rolled out this year and next. The paper also calls on administrations in the Middle East and Africa to open the lower 6 GHz band (5925-6425 MHz) and consider licence-exempt access to the upper 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz).

“Used for every aspect in our lives such as remote education, work and commerce, Wi-Fi needs greater spectrum access in the 6 GHz band to effectively support the modern digital ecosystem,” declared Dr. Martha Suárez, President of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance. “With access to wide 160 MHz channels in the 6 GHz band, Wi-Fi 6E will be able to deliver very robust connectivity that can enable truly immersive and compelling multimedia experiences.”

To enable the world to fully benefit from Wi-Fi 6E – a new generation of Wi-Fi technology – governments should make the 6 GHz band available for usage by licence-exempt technologies.  The paper explains that Wi-Fi 6 enables an efficient use of the spectrum in terms of access, ensuring that existing incumbent services can continue to thrive in the band while meeting the growing demand for wireless capacity with more throughput, connected devices and coverage.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting the critical need to bring reliable broadband to many more people and communities,” added Herman Schepers, Founder and Director of Policy Impact Partners. “That won’t happen unless both licensed and licence-exempt wireless technologies have access to the spectrum they need. People should have the flexibility to use the technology best suited to their budget, their use case and other local factors, whether that be 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi or another unlicensed technology.”

According to the paper, if countries across the world were to enable licence-exempt access to the entire 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band, the global digital ecosystem would benefit from major economies of scale. This would reduce costs for end-users and allow people to benefit from innovative new services that harness the capabilities of Wi-Fi 6E. Countries that have opted for a rapid deployment of 5G, such as South Korea and the US, recognise the need to allow licence-exempt access to the entire 6 GHz band, it notes.


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