Here’s something we can all celebrate this week – Washington policymakers are taking the first step to increase Wi-Fi’s capacity as we move toward a hyper-connected era. Today, Wi-Fi represents nearly $2 trillion in global economic value and will continue growing as it enables 5G, IoT, and AI-powered services. Recognizing Wi-Fi’s critical importance, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote to examine whether technologies such as Wi-Fi can expand into a significant new spectrum band known as “6 Gigahertz” (6 GHz).
Why does that matter? As we post even more on social media, stream 4K HDR movies and TV shows, and connect everything from home security to your AI-powered assistant to your refrigerator and treadmill, Wi-Fi will need a lot more radio spectrum to handle all that data. And that is just for the use-cases we know of now, not the high-speed, high-density ones bolstered by 5G, IoT, and AI that have yet to be invented. Those spectrum benefits will also bolster enterprises large and small and their inventions, convention centers and sporting arenas, and broadband Internet Service Providers and government agencies.
So, expanding Wi-Fi into 6 GHz will help you do more of what you love now and enable us to create and better shape the future.
There are many reasons for leaders in Washington to get behind allocating this spectrum to Wi-Fi and enabling the future. For one, a recent study by the Wi-Fi Alliance found the economic value of Wi-Fi in the U.S. is nearly $500 billion and growing. Not only that, Cisco has found that Wi-Fi networks in the U.S. carry about half of all Internet traffic, more than fixed connections or wireless connections over your carrier’s licensed spectrum. Finally, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index predicts that by 2021 70 percent of the data you generate on your smartphone will be “offloaded” to a Wi-Fi network, such as at your work site or at home versus your carrier.
We are excited to have FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow Commissioners Michael O’Reilly, Jessica Rosenworcel, and Brendan Carr, consider a new policy on 6 GHz spectrum that, when completed, will generate benefits for nearly every person and organization in the U.S. And kudos to our elected officials in Congress on both sides of the aisle – in particular Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune (R-SD), Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) – for supporting the FCC’s upcoming evaluation of Wi-Fi for our future.