FCC votes to hike up Wi-Fi spectrum by 15 percent

5GHz WiFi
FCC increases 5GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi use

Ladies and gentleman start your routers, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to increase the wellspring of Wi-Fi spectrum by 15%.

The FCC voted unanimously in a 5-0 decision to open up 100MHz of the unlicensed 5GHz wireless spectrum for Wi-Fi. The results of this decision will increase the number of frequencies available to wireless networks by 15%.

Along with swathes of new wireless broadband, part of the commission's vote removed the restriction on indoor-only networks. This opens up the possibly for Wi-Fi providers create an outdoor networks in the 100 MHz range.

This could just be the beginning as GigaOM reports that the FCC is also considering the conversion of an additional 195 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum to unlicensed use. In the meantime the biggest benefactor in the near future could be the still relatively new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which rides on the less cluttered 5 GHz band.

Riding the wave

Before the commission's decision, the 5 GHz band had always been unlicensed. However, there have been restrictions to prevent devices from interfering with its other uses including Globalstar's satellite ground links and government tracking through telemetry networks.

But in July 2013 the Defense Department released the band, and earlier this year Globalstar reached an agreement with the FCC to open up the band of spectrum to satellite and Wi-Fi use.

WifiForward, a lobbying group that launched its mission calling for more unlicensed Wi-Fi earlier this February quickly stepped forward after the announcement praising the decision. The organization noted in a statement that the "FCC's action will create a new environment for experimentation, new business models, and better Wi-Fi."

In the same mission statement from this February, the group announced it would lobby in Washington on the behalf of Google, Microsoft and a consortium of cable companies for more unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. It seems some cries for more wireless internet are finally being heard in Washington.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.