Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission forever altered the future of Wi-Fi. Thanks to their action, a new generation of innovation is now possible.
With today’s vote, the FCC authorized 1200 MHz of 6 GHz spectrum to be opened for indoor Wi-Fi use. This is a bold action, taken with deep knowledge of both the technology trajectory of Wi-Fi and demand from consumers and businesses alike. Bold action is needed, as we are all discovering as we work from home, learn from home, and play at home – and stream more video than ever before.
Those of us who helped build Wi-Fi and who are responsible for its future send congratulations and thanks to the FCC. We promise to make good use of this resource.
Wireless is the only category of technology that requires an input exclusively provided by government. Radio spectrum is necessary to make Wi-Fi and 5G work, and wherever you are in the world, a national regulator controls the supply chain.
We are very fortunate in the U.S. to have forward-thinking regulators who are proactively solving the spectrum issues for both WiFi6 and 5G. Demand for wireless technologies continues to grow, and while technology companies are constantly innovating to use radio spectrum more efficiently – eventually, more radio spectrum is needed to avoid the perils of congestion. Congested spectrum impedes innovation and inhibits businesses and consumers from achieving the outcomes they want.
For example, until now, available Wi-Fi spectrum was sufficient to meet the needs of prior generations of Wi-Fi. Spectrum had been made available first in the 2.4 GHz band, and then in the 5 GHz band, useful for running 20 MHz or 40 MHz wide channels. Unfortunately, that’s not good enough to fully support new technologies, such as WiFi6, with its ability to create channels that are up to 160 MHz wide.
Cisco can confirm that today, enterprises are using wireless to transform how the way in which they conduct business. This was happening before the current health emergency and will continue long after. Methods of producing outcomes, whether widgets or human health, are fundamentally shifting to digital and wireless.
Twenty years ago, Wi-Fi was introduced as a way to unplug our computers from a modem that itself was plugged into the wall. It was such a simple problem. And then it turned out, Wi-Fi could solve other problems as well, from providing rich content and interaction in classrooms to transforming how hospital clinicians manage patient caseloads. We’ve come such a long way, and, with new radio spectrum available for the future, we have such a long way to go.