By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
On August 9 representatives from Broadcom and Qualcomm met with the FCC to present findings of a European study clearly showing – according to the ex parte filing – that “Wi-Fi can share the 6 GHz band without causing harmful interference to fixed and satellite operations.” The filing suggests that Europe could actually be ahead on the road to release new 6 GHz spectrum to Wi-Fi.
The US may have been the first to announce the intention to release 6 GHz bands to Wi-Fi but on the windy road to actually get there, it appears that Europe could be ahead.
The big issue that regulators everywhere need to resolve is whether or not new Wi-Fi operations in 6 GHz could interfere with incumbent uses of the band. According to an August 13 filing with the FCC, a new and detailed European study shows that low-power indoor (LPI) Wi-Fi can share the 6 GHz band with fixed and satellite operations without causing harmful interference. As a result, European regulators have already now begun drafting 6 GHz unlicensed regulation, the filing says.
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Broadcom says that the European decision to go ahead and begin the draft regulation is driven by a combination of recognising the need for more spectrum as well understanding that impact from low power indoor and very low power operations on incumbents is likely to be negligible.
“Regulators in Europe have clearly warmed to the idea of allowing low power and very low power operation across the band, and that’s enormously important for the future of Wi-Fi connectivity,” says Vijay Nagarajan, VP Mobile Connectivity Unit at Broadcom.
Although there is no meaningful ‘race to 6 GHz Wi-Fi’ (just like the ‘race to 5G’ is also a myth) the global Wi-Fi industry is obviously pushing for 6 GHz spectrum to be made available to Wi-Fi in as many countries as possible and as soon as possible. That said the political prestige involved in ‘getting there first’ could be an additional incentive for regulators to speed up the process – especially in the US, which now appears to be lagging behind.
The results of the European study and its implications were presented to the FCC by representatives of Wi-Fi chip giants Broadcom and Qualcomm at a meeting in Washington DC on August 9. The chipset makers are using the results of the European study applicable to the 5925-6425 MHz band – as well as similar results from an earlier US study – to convince the FCC that indoor low power Wi-Fi is perfectly well suited for spectrum sharing with incumbents.
“We explained that Europe’s experience and the conservative assumptions that they used should give U.S. regulators confidence in opening the 6 GHz band to indoor low power unlicensed operations,” writes E. Austin Bonner, Counsel to Broadcom, in the filing.