Wi-Fi is the most important wireless technology we have. Indeed, it currently carries 68% of mobile Internet traffic; by 2022, that will increase to 76%. Wi-Fi has contributed billions to the US economy and promises to change entire industries transforming the way we attend sporting event and concerts, airports, shopping centers, theme parks, public transportation, and on and on. We can only begin to imagine the ways that the next generation of Wi-Fi will impact the way we work, play, shop and live.
We’re on the cusp of an explosion of connected devices. Not only are wired broadband speeds increasing, carriers are starting to deploy wireless 5G networks, taking advantage of supportive FCC policies. The Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, and the increasing use of video will make the world more connected than ever before. But a single technology will not, and cannot, deliver this bounty by itself – broadband technologies require a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure to address rising demand at the edge from consumers and businesses alike. While technology companies are ready with a new generation of Wi-Fi known as Wi-Fi 6, absent additional radio spectrum our unlicensed bands are going to become crowded, threatening to impair the next generation of Wi-Fi before it can make its mark.
In response to these changes, last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began exploring the allocation of spectrum in the 6 GHz band (5.925 – 7.125 band) to unlicensed use, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently reiterated the FCC’s intent to introduce shared use of the band. A growing consensus of technology companies and operators have rallied behind the Chairman’s plan, and industry is now ready with devices that can quickly make use of the spectrum. As the FCC prepares a final decision on the matter, Cisco encourages the FCC to take a hard look at the technological potential and societal benefits that can be unlocked from the allocation of 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi use. With the careful and detailed proposals made by unlicensed proponents, unlicensed use can successfully coexist with the services already present in the 6 GHz band, benefiting everyone.
Wi-Fi 6 is necessary to realizing the promise of the technology of tomorrow. And access to 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum is crucial to the future of our nation’s wireless infrastructure.