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WBA praises Saudi Arabia’s spectrum designation

March 31, 2021

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the body leading development of next-generation Wi-Fi services, commends the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) for their spectrum designation of the entire 6 GHz band (5.925-7.125 GHz) for licence-exempt use.

Saudi Arabia is the first country in the Middle East, Europe, or Africa to designate all 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use. The Kingdom now has more than 2 GHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi operations – the most mid-band spectrum designated by any country globally.

The Kingdom made this decision after a comprehensive consultation, significant engagement with various global stakeholders, and trials with Wi-Fi 6E equipment furnished by WBA members Broadcom Inc. and Intel Corporation. The trials demonstrated that the Kingdom could advance its digital ambitions, achieving 2 Gigabits per second speed in laptop computers, while enabling continued operations with existing users of the 6 GHz band.

In WBA’s annual report, members of the Wi-Fi industry said that the 6 GHz band is a critical component of their network strategy, with 78% seeking to take advantage of this spectrum to deliver high speed wireless broadband. By making all 1200 MHz of the band available, the Saudi’s have created a wireless superhighway with seven non-overlapping 160 MHz channels of green field spectrum for Wi-Fi 6E devices to use. Saudis will enjoy high reliability Wi-Fi that doubles the speeds and halves the latency compared to the capacity-constrained 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

The Kingdom will also be well positioned to lead in Wi-Fi 7 deployments when it becomes available. With this broad-based designation, Wi-Fi 7 deployments using 320 MHz wide channels will get up to 5 gigabits per second in mobile devices at very low latencies. This sets the stage for the Kingdom to further reap the benefits of contextual Internet, integrated communications services, and immersive AR/VR for telemedicine, education and worker training.

With Saudi Arabia joining the ranks of the US, South Korea, Brazil, and others, in designating all 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band for license-exempt use, the WBA hopes that other regulators in the region will take note and make a similar commitment to advancing their own wireless broadband capabilities. This will lead to Global harmonisation, which is key to scale, accelerating technology development, and reducing costs for end-users.

“The CITC’s decision is a clear global milestone,” said Tiago Rodrigues, WBA CEO. “Saudi Arabia has set out a leading position for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and raised the bar for the rest of the world. The WBA strongly recommends that regulators in other countries pay close attention to Saudi Arabia’s example of allocating the entire 6GHz band for licence-exempt use. The release of the full 1200 MHz provides enhanced flexibility for both indoor and outdoor deployments and lays the foundation for the Kingdom’s citizens and businesses to set a path for the adoption of Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 when that technology debuts.  It has been a pleasure to collaborate with CITC, and I look forward to further collaboration by enabling OpenRoaming trials, which will enable secure and seamless roaming.”

Rodrigues continued: “The CITC ruling underlines how important 6 GHz spectrum is in achieving the Kingdom’s vision to transform Saudi Arabia into a digital society. Overnight, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a model for how the rest of the world can use spectrum policy to ensure that their schools, health care providers, businesses, citizens and visitors can provide affordable, reliable, multi-gigabit connectivity and take full advantage of Wi-Fi and 5G.”

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