Traveling Wi-Fi Ahead: the Upper 5 GHz Band

Nowadays Wi-Fi spectrum bands are wildly popular. But with more and more people and products taking advantage of this technology, these bands are getting congested. It reminds all of us of the famous Yogi Berra estimate, “Nobody goes there anymore; it is too crowded. ”

In response to the growing use of Wi fi, the Federal Communications Commission has brought steps to meet the growing demand for more unlicensed spectrum. Last year, we additional 100 megahertz of spectrum for Wi-Fi in the lower 5 GHz band. The Commission is also seeking to secure some unlicensed spectrum opportunities in the 600 MHz band as part of our upcoming incentive auction. But more needs to be done—and soon.

One spectrum band that we believe needs greater attention is within the upper 5 GHz band. Because of the proximity to spectrum in other parts of the 5 GHz band that are already used for unlicensed solutions, this is a prime candidate to help satisfy the demand for Wi-Fi. Unlicensed solutions generally share spectrum with other radio stations services on a non-interference basis. Therefore one of the bands identified for potential new sharing is the 75 megahertz of spectrum located at 5850 to 5925 MHz (also known as the U-NII-4 band) that was allocated by Commission in 1999 for Dedicated Short Range Communications Service (DSRC) techniques intended to improve roadway safety.

DSRC was intended to enable short range, wireless links to transfer information between vehicles plus roadside systems. At the time of allocation, DRSC was expected to be used for a selection of purposes, including “traffic light manage, traffic monitoring, travelers’ alerts, automated toll collection, traffic congestion recognition, emergency vehicle signal preemption associated with traffic lights, and electronic inspection of moving trucks through data transmissions with roadside inspection facilities. ”

Since then, while DSRC has been slowly developing, the particular demand for Wi-Fi and products using unlicensed spectrum has cracked. Moreover, during this time we have witnessed the introduction of increasingly sophisticated techniques that have enabled unlicensed devices to operate in places once unimaginable, like the broadcast television white spaces. As a result, we believe it is imperative to look at ways for unlicensed services to operate in the U-NII-4 band.

There are a variety of ways to accomplish this goal. Given technological advancements in alleviating interference, we should discover if unlicensed services could function in the U-NII-4 band, without causing harmful interference to DSRC. Additionally, a number of parties have suggested dedicating the upper portion of the U-NII-4 band for DSRC and allowing the lower portion to be dedicated to a mix of Wi fi and non-critical DSRC uses. Below either scenario, there could be exciting new possibilities for more high-speed, high-capacity Wi fi in the 5 GHz band.

Furthermore, there is growing interest in the Wi-Fi opportunities in the U-NII-4 band from outside the Commission. Upon Capitol Hill, Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Booker (D-NJ) have reintroduced Senate legislation from the last Our elected representatives that establishes a process, including analyzing interference-mitigation technologies and establishing a test plan, in order to assess and possibly allow unlicensed services to operate within the U-NII-4 band if doing so does not result in harmful interference to DSRC. In addition , Representatives Latta (R-OH), Issa (R-CA), Eshoo (D-CA), Matsui (D-CA), and DelBene (D-WA) have reintroduced similar 5 GHz band legislation in the House of Representatives. Separately, the particular Institute of Electrical and Consumer electronics Engineers (IEEE) has begun work on the possibilities having both unlicensed devices plus DSRC systems operate, although we all recognize that resolution in this forum may not occur in the near term.

We also recognize in line with the record before us (ET 13-49) that proponents of DSRC are reluctant to support efforts that they believe jeopardize their exclusive use of precious spectrum. Nonetheless, more than a decade and a half following this spectrum was set aside for vehicle and roadside systems, we believe it is time to take a modern look at the company possibilities in these airwaves. In other words, it is time for the Commission to develop a compromise that allows both unlicensed and DSRC use in the U-NII-4 band.

We support the basic safety initiatives associated with DSRC, but are mindful that mobile opportunities are multiplying in ways never contemplated whenever this spectrum was set aside in 1999. After all, when DSRC was new, driverless cars were the stuff of science fiction. Additionally , new technologies are coming to market that support features like automatic brake and lane change warnings apply radar and other technologies not influenced by DSRC. Above all, we should not strand our spectrum strategies in turn-of-the-millennium safety technologies when there are might be other more efficient ways to reach these same goals.

In sum, there are possibilities for greater unlicensed use in the U-NII-4 band while still permitting and protecting DSRC, and the time to make that happen is now. By doing so, we can support vehicle safety, expand the spectrum used for Wi-Fi and grow our wi-fi economy. That strikes both people as goals worth pursuing.

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