USA: Green light for 6 GHz Wi-Fi – when will Europe follow suit?

The news tickers at technology media companies were overheating last week: The US government agency FCC had unanimously decided to release approximately 1,200 MHz (5925-7125 MHz) of frequency spectrum in the 6 GHz frequency range for WLAN use! That is equally great news for Wi-Fi enthusiasts, tech fans and companies as well. As producers, we are exuberant over this crucial step! Even if the decision remains limited to US territory, one has to put aside any feelings of envy for the moment and commend the FCC move for what it is: a milestone for the WLAN industry.

Turbo boost for high density scenarios

In March the first demonstrations by a chipset producer showed how powerful the mid-range spectrum of the 6 GHz frequency range really is. Transmission speeds of 2 Gbit/s for smartphones, PCs and the like and latency times of less than 2 milliseconds speak for themselves and no doubt made a deep impression on the FCC as well.

Wi-Fi 6E, as the Wi-Fi Alliance calls WLAN in the 6 GHz range, can flaunt all its advantages especially in high-density environments. WLAN scenarios in football stadiums, concert halls, but also congress centers, exhibition halls, airports and universities, schools and hospitals should be receiving a real turbo boost thanks to the new spectrum. What’s more: Wi-Fi 6E achieves high-performance rates at much lower investment costs, which up until now were largely considered to be a hallmark feature of local industrial networks using the latest mobile phone standard 5G. State-of-the-art IoT or VR applications can now thanks to the FCC move be implemented cost-effectively even by small and medium-sized enterprises.

Here are a couple fun facts for tech buffs: The expansion of the WLAN spectrum that has now been approved in in the USA makes a range many times over the previous spectrum available for WLAN. Thus, an additional 59 channels at 20 MHz have now come into play, and the number of the popular 40 and 80 MHz channels has leaped by 29 and 14, respectively. Seven additional channels have now even been added to the extremely broad 160 MHz channels in the USA. By way of comparison, only around 28 non-overlapping channels were previously available in the USA.

It is no exaggeration to call the opening of the 6 GHz frequency band for WLAN an historic step. With its decision, the FCC has in no unclear terms underscored the importance and significance of license-free wireless technologies for the private as well as business sectors. Not least the Corona crisis has emphatically demonstrated how important WLAN is for the everyday lives of people and companies. Hence the way has now been paved for wireless technology into the future.

Europe to follow suit in the spring of 2021

Now regulators in Europe are called upon to follow suit to ensure that individuals and businesses can reap the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E as soon as possible. We are very optimistic that we Europeans will also be able to celebrate the release of the 6 GHz range for WLAN in the spring of 2021.

On this side of the Atlantic, the additional spectrum will not be as broad as in the USA, however; “only” about 500 MHz (5925-6425 MHz) are being planned. Nonetheless, this is also an important step! One need only recall that the last expansion of license-free frequency ranges for WLAN took place a good 15 years back in time. Given all this, this moment will be something for all of us to savor and rejoice about!

The institutions and working groups in charge in Europe are working hard to keep to the timetable. I would like to take this opportunity to praise the work of the German Federal Network Agency in particular: In recent months and years, it has been advocating and working tirelessly for an opening up the 6 GHZ band for WLAN – both at the national as well as European levels. As a German WLAN manufacturer, we are of course quite pleased that this issue of vital concern to our branch is receiving support of such magnitude, especially from the Federal Network Agency.

As is so often the case in Europe, however, processes are quite complex and require considerable time and intensive coordination efforts on the part of the individual countries involved. Experts say that the expansion will be taking place in the spring of 2021. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that here in Europe we will then indeed also be able set off the WLAN turbo boost fireworks!

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