FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC should use more of the 5 GHz band for unlicensed wireless use, and explore ways to make use of guard bands that will be produced in the 600 MHz spectrum auction for unlicensed purposes, reports Fierce Wireless.
Rosenworcel said that recent economic studies that add up the broader impact of unlicensed spectrum on the economy estimate its annual value at more than $140 billion. “By any measure, that number is really, really big,” she said.
“We can take the flexible Wi-Fi rules that have already been the script for an unlicensed success story in the 5.725-5.825 GHz band [which can use 1 Watt radios and high gain antennas] and expand them to the 5.15-5.25 GHz band [limited to indoor 50mW radios]. If we do, we could effectively double unlicensed bandwidth in the 5 GHz band overnight. That will mean more unlicensed service—and less congestion on licensed wireless networks. That’s win-win.”
The WiFiForward coalition, launched last month, is calling for policymakers to open up more unlicensed spectrum.
WiFiForward members include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, NCTA, CEA, Google, Microsoft and others. Comcast and TWC, for example, hope to use the 5 GHz band for their own community networking. But the four high power unlicensed channels at 5.8 GHz are often congested by users who don’t pay Comcast any money.
The U-NII band covers 5.15-5.35 GHz and (more recently), the 5.470-5.825 GHz range. The 802.11a standard defines 12 fixed, nonoverlapping channels for use in the 5.0 GHz U-NII band. The new 802.11ac standard increased the channel width significantly, up to 160 MHz wide. Wireless ISPs generally use 5.725-5.825 GHz band, which allows for higher power, especially useful in pt to pt or point to multi-point backhaul connections.
The FCC seeks comment on making available an additional 195 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.35-5.47 GHz and 5.85-5.925 GHz bands for U-NII use.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Bright House and Cablevision joined together in 2012 to share Wi-Fi hot spots to provide Internet access for their broadband customers that total about 41 million. Comcast alone has added 1 million hot spots by deploying Wi-Fi routers that beam an additional “public” hot spot available to its customers.
Tom Nagel, Comcast’s senior vice president of business development, would like to take over the “free” WiFi band, reports CED Magazine:
“I think we really want to get to 160 MHZ block channels. Today Wi-Fi is at 20 MHz channels. If I can do 160 MHZ, we can generate something close to a gigabit Wi-Fi and doing that not only makes the outdoor broadband better, but all of the in home connectivity better as well.”
The 5.15-5.25 GHz band could effectively be the Comcast/TWC band. They already have pole rights.
Then Comcast could charge for the air.
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