The Federal Communications Commission recently voted to free up 100MHz of additional wireless spectrum in the 5GHz band. Said spectrum will be accessible for use in homes and congested spaces like convention centers, parks and airports according to a press release on the matter.
The airwaves in question were previously owned by satellite phone provider Globalstar but earlier this year, they reached an agreement with the FCC to open the band up to Wi-Fi and satellite use. The ruling essentially means that Wi-Fi routers will soon be able to handle more traffic and at higher speeds to alleviate what former FCC chairman Julius Genachowski once called a “Wi-Fi traffic jam.”
Unlicensed spectrum advocacy group WiFiForward said they commend the commission for crafting a thoughtful balance between the needs of incumbents and innovators to make sharing possible. What’s more, the FCC’s action will create a new environment for experimentation, new business models and better Wi-Fi.
This certainly won’t be the last we hear about wireless spectrum in the news. Cisco Systems estimates that Wi-Fi networks will carry more cellphone traffic than traditional cellular networks by 2018. If allocation remains unchanged, that could cause a huge problem in a few years.
That’s unlikely, however, as commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has already asked the FCC to open more space in the 3.5GHz and the 600MHz spectrum bands. The problem, however, is that this is spectrum that mobile broadband carriers currently covet.
We’ll know more on the matter come mid-2015 when the FCC auctions that space.