With the market demanding faster and more efficient Wi-Fi, the FCC announced that it would open up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band.
Announced at this week’s 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said this would be the largest block of unlicensed spectrum made available specifically for Wi-Fi since 2003, when capacity in that band was doubled.
Genachowski said the newly opened spectrum should clear up any congestion in the Wi-Fi networks at major places like airports and convention centers (much to the chagrin of the estimated 155,000 people attending this year’s show).
“It will also help in homes as tablets and smartphones proliferate and video use rises,” he said.
Spectrum used for gigabit Wi-Fi, will also increase by 35 percent, as part of the deal.
That wasn’t the only talk about spectrum going on at this year’s CES. TV broadcasters and cellular companies are keeping a keen eye on the FCC’s incentive auction, which aims to clean up the broadcaster’s spectrum and make it more efficient. Participating stations would sell their station via a bidding process to the FCC, who would then auction off that spectrum to cellular companies.
With growing demand for mobile technology expected to hit unprecedented levels in 2015, that spectrum is a hot commodity.
I covered a panel for my real job at TVNewsCheck.com at CES this week. Here’s an excerpt:
Those who believe the FCC will hit the 2014 deadline point to the market demand for more spectrum — all those gadgets and gizmos — as the No. 1. motivator.
“We’re focused on the incentive auction as a country,” said Charla Rath, vice president of wireless policy development for Verizon. “Anyone who walks the [CES] show floor can count the vast majority of products out there that have some kind of wireless component. People want to be mobile.”
The International Data Corporation predicts the demand for Internet-connect devices could reach more than $2 trillion in 2015.
When Congress passed legislation to allow a voluntary spectrum auction last year, it was estimated that the complete auction could generate $24 billion — $7 billion that would be used for public safety communications — and $3 billion that would be paid out to the participating broadcasters.