Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report to Congress concerning proposals to expand commercial spectrum sharing opportunities with government and other systems operating at 5 GHz.  This is a direct result of landmark Congressional action last year, when it directed the NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to examine whether government might be able to open nearly 200 MHz of additional spectrum to sharing by unlicensed devices.

The proposed spectrum footprint for unlicensed devices would permit operation over a contiguous block of spectrum, from 5150 MHz to 5925 MHz, providing significant new spectrum for Gigabit Wi-Fi, the next gen Wi-Fi technology capable of multi-gigabit throughput speeds.  Among its many benefits, Gigabit Wi-Fi would be a major leap forward, opening the door to real time HD video in hundreds of applications.

The NTIA report represents a tremendous step toward understanding the radio environment presented by government and other systems in the expansion bands, and is a positive contribution to the technical examination that needs to happen before devices can be allowed to operate in the expansion bands. We are looking forward to working with the NTIA and  participating in the upcoming FCC rulemaking next month to address the technical issues about how unlicensed equipment can share spectrum with incumbent users successfully.

We are very pleased that NTIA has reached this important milestone in the examination of whether additional spectrum can be made available for unlicensed devices at 5 GHz.  The new Gigabit Wi-Fi technologies that we are deploying at 5 GHz represent tremendous advancements in radio technology, and will accelerate the use of high definition video in a range of new applications. In hospitals, manufacturing, education and throughout the economy, Gigabit Wi-Fi promises to break new ground in delivering high quality video imaging. And it is just as important that Wi-Fi is becoming the off-load technology of choice – carrying an estimated 60% of all Internet traffic at the edge by 2016.

Wi-Fi is becoming the default way in which devices connect to the Internet and is now incorporated into everything from smart phones and tablets to cars and smart grid technologies.  Adding wireless capacity is a years-long effort.  If policymakers don’t act now, America faces a serious supply-demand imbalance in the near term. More spectrum must be made available for connectivity and innovation to continue supporting America’s job growth.