Press Release Spectrum Reform

FCC Chairman Pai Moves to Close Digital Divide by Bringing Home Gigabit Wi-Fi to America

April 1, 2020 , , , , ,

Today, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a draft Report and Order that would make the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed spectrum use. The first significant new allocation of midband spectrum for unlicensed use in 17 years, opening the 6 GHz band is vitally important to enabling the deployment of next generation Wi-Fi Technology, called Wi-Fi 6. 

The development of Wi-Fi 6 will play a critical role in the rollout of 5G, allowing hundreds of devices to remain connected to a single Wi-Fi network while maintaining superfast speeds. In addition, unlicensed access to the 6 GHz band will help close the digital divide by offering home gigabit Wi-Fi internet access in rural areas and other low-income communities — an especially important goal during the current pandemic. Public Knowledge commends Chairman Pai for championing the next generation of wireless technology for all Americans.

The following can be attributed to Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“We applaud the FCC and Chairman Pai for the decision to help bring the promise of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G to more Americans. Opening the whole 6 GHz band for unlicensed use both through fixed high-power outdoor use and low-power indoor use will bring faster Wi-Fi to both rural and urban communities struggling to connect, helping to close the widening digital divide that we find ourselves in. 

“Wi-Fi 6 is necessary for delivering gigabit wireless services and internet-of-things products to consumers. These products can have a profound positive impact on people’s lives, such as more responsive telehealth. By opening the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed use, the gigabit speed Wi-Fi needed for faster internet can soon become a reality.

“The current COVID-19 crisis underscores how important high-capacity Wi-Fi is for everyone. Anyone working from home uses Wi-Fi access points, and mobile carriers are opening their networks as well to help connect more people during this crisis. Now more than ever, faster Wi-Fi is a necessity for more Americans as we try to work, learn, and connect with one another from home. The FCC’s action marks a crucial step forward in making faster Wi-Fi a reality, which could soon help more Americans at a time where connection is essential.”

You may view our recent blog post, “Why Auctioning the 6 GHz Band Would be Phenomenally Bad Policy If you Want Wi-Fi 6 and 5G,” for more information on the importance of the 6 GHz band for developing the next generation of Wi-Fi.