wifi

WiFi got a lot of love from the FCC and on the Hill last week. Earlier in the week, House members were bullish on unlicensed spectrum during a Communications subcmte hearing, after which House members from both parties introduced legislation to incentivize the federal agency to sell some spectrum for commercial use. Then on Fri, the FCC said it will consider action aimed at using spectrum sharing technologies to make 150 MHz spectrum in the 3.5 MHz band for wireless use. Last year, the FCC added 100 MHz of spectrum for WiFi in the lower 5 GHz band and is seeking to secure some unlicensed spectrum in the 600 MHz band (TV White Space band) as part of its upcoming incentive auction. Another prime candidate to help meet the demand for WiFi is the upper 5 GHz band, currently used by the auto industry. “We agree that the upper 5 [GHz band] can be used if done right. We also believe that the auto manufacturers testing in this space can be protected, and need to be protected,” Republican commish Michael O’Rielly said during an event hosted by WiFiForward on Wed, which is backed by companies and groups including NCTA, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter and Arris. “We’d love for them [auto industry] to move forward on some of their technologies. We’ve seen great use of the 5 GHz band by the WiFi community, and we think we can do sharing here as well without causing technical interference,” O’Rielly said. The upper 5GHz band was originally allocated to improve roadway safety. Unlicensed services generally share spectrum with other wireless services on a non-interference basis. That touches on a petition filed last year by hotel chains including Marriott. They want the FCC to amend or clarify the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum, hoping to gain the right to block outside WiFi access. “The hotel industry came to us last year and out of concern for the security of their customers asked to block outside access. It seems to me that there are legitimate security concerns, but unilaterally blocking WiFi hotspots seems like a terrible idea…” Democratic commish Jessica Rosenworcel said during the WiFiForward event. The hotels have already withdrawn the petition. O’Rielly said he isn’t much of a believer of the security argument of the hotel industry. The truth is whether hotels enable WiFi has become an determining factor when people choose hotels, he said. Also at the event was chip maker Broadcom ’s evp, worldwide sales Michael Hurlston. Calling the 5 GHz band vital for “sustenance and growth of WiFi,” he said it’s critical that additional bands be made available in this band. Similarly, enabling unlicensed activity in the TV White Space bands is vital to technologies such as 802.11af. Known as the Super-WiFi, the 802.11af specification can improve coverage by 3-4 times over transmission on the 2.4 GHz band, Hurlston noted. “We can use this attribute for remote access among other things,” he said.

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