Tech giants back 6Hz Wi-Fi tethering call

(Image credit: Netgear)

Some of the world's biggest technology firms have backed a proposal that would allow Wi-Fi devices to make use of unlicensed spectrum for greater mobile tethering.

Apple, Google, Facebook, HP, Qualcomm and Microsoft are among the signatories of a letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for approval for a new category of Very Low Power (VLP) Wi-Fi devices.

VLP devices would be able to use 6GHz spectrum on an unlicensed basis for high-capacity, short range connections, greatly boosting applications such as phone tethering and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR).

Very Low Power Wi-Fi

Such devices would be limited to a 14 dBm EIRP – significantly less than the usual 36 dBm EIRP worth of power emitted by conventional Wi-Fi devices.

This limitation is designed to quieten opposition from the mobile industry, which would like to obtain greater control of the 6GHz band for 5G services. This spectrum is already used for wireless backhaul by both operators and utilities companies and they fear greater unlicensed use would cause interference.

The letter, first spotted by Wi-Fi Now, says suggests VLP would actually support 5G because of a need for short-range, low latency, high-speed connections for devices. It also argues that because Wi-Fi 6 doesn’t have any legacy devices, the risk of interference is low.

But the battle between the wireless and mobile industry is nothing new. The industry bodies for each group constantly lobby lawmakers and regulators in order to secure the best possible spectrum for their members.

Another example of this is the ongoing debate about which standard should be supported in the EU.

Via Wi-Fi Now

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.