By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
What can unlicensed 6 GHz radio do for you if you’re a wireless ISP in the USA? This week Texas-based service provider Nextlink Internet conducted a field trial of outdoor standard power 6 GHz Wi-Fi-based fixed wireless radio using Cambium Networks access points and CPEs. The test achieved 1 Gbps/500 Mbps of download/upload data rates using a 160 MHz channel across a distance of two miles (about 3.2 km) at line-of-sight. As far as we know this is the first wireless ISP trial of outdoor 6 GHz fixed wireless technology in the US.
Texas-based wireless ISP Nextlink Internet and equipment vendor Cambium Networks have taken a first giant step towards building outdoor Wi-Fi-based fixed wireless Internet services using the 6 GHz band. Such services are likely to contribute strongly to bridging the digital divide in the US in particular in rural areas where high-speed broadband services are often scarce or expensive or both.
Enjoying this story?
Leave your email here and we'll get you all the latest Wi-Fi news.
This week Nextlink Internet and Cambium Networks conducted what we believe is the first field trial of outdoor standard power (36 dBm) 6 GHz Wi-Fi-based wireless Internet services. The trial confirmed that 6 GHz Wi-Fi-based fixed wireless radio is fully capable of delivering up to 1 Gbps/500 Mbps download/upload data rates to a subscriber module (CPE) over a line-of-sight distance of two miles (about 3.2 kilometres) using a 160 MHz channel. Cambium Networks uses Qualcomm’s Networking Pro series Wi-Fi chipsets to power APs and subscriber modules.
Nextlink says they are excited about the prospect of deploying new 6 GHz-based infrastructure. “We will be rolling out 6 GHz-based services across our entire footprint and we plan on using the new technology and spectrum also to expand our service area,” says Claude Aiken, Chief Strategy Officer at Nextlink Internet.
The company expects 6 GHz-based wireless Internet services to become available later this year. A commercial 6 GHz service will require availability of so-called ‘AFC’ – a database lookup scheme defined by the FCC and designed to protect incumbent users of the 6 GHz band against potential interference from standard power unlicensed wireless operations in the same 6 GHz band (read more here). While the process to make the AFC function available to service providers is well underway, the FCC still needs to finally approve AFC operations and hardware will need to be certified, Claude Aiken says.
The company says that Nextlink 6 GHz-based gigabit fixed wireless services will ultimately cover more than 4 million households and businesses. The new 6 GHz service will also fulfill the technical requirements for the FCC’s “Rural Digital Opportunity Fund”, a US$20.4 billion fund aimed at bridging the digital divide in rural areas of the US. For more about the fund read here.
Nextlink Internet is a rural-focused provider of high-speed internet and phone services in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. The company is a fully IP-based, carrier-class network from core to edge with approximately 85,000 customers, more than 1,000 team members, and extensive fibre and wireless infrastructure. Nextlink says they are working rapidly to connect thousands of additional homes, schools, libraries, and businesses in small communities across 11 states. Nextlink is one of the largest hybrid fibre and wireless ISPs in the USA.