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FCC Opens 100 MHz of 5 GHz Spectrum for Unlicensed Wi-Fi Use

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 2:53pm
Ben Munson

The FCC today moved to make 100 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum more accessible for unlicensed Wi-Fi use.

The new report and order focused on relaxing the rules governing the operation of Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) in the 5 GHz band, specifically removing current restriction on indoor-only use and increasing the permissible power in the 5.150-5.250 GHz band.

According to the FCC, the new rules will allow U-NII devices to “better integrate with other unlicensed portions of the 5 GHz band to offer faster speeds and reduce congestion at crowded Wi-Fi hot spots.”

In addition, the Commission reworked rules for all unlicensed Wi-Fi operations in the 5 GHz Band and updated certain technical rules, requiring manufacturers to secure their devices against illegal modification in order to avoid interference with on-going operations in 5 GHz.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler hoped the Commission’s latest action would help put to rest the argument of licensed versus unlicensed spectrum.

“In 2014, licensed and unlicensed spectrum are more complimentary than competitive. They are less oil & vinegar and more peanut butter & jelly,” Wheeler said in a statement, adding that just about every smartphone has two unlicensed technologies, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and many also feature Near Field Communication.

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