The spectrum freed up for Wi-Fi is a finite resource. Too many devices can congest the networks and slow down service for everybody. The FCC wants to prevent that from happening, and have taken steps to relieve congestion with its latest proposal.
The FCC announced today that it has unanimously voted to free up 195 MHz of additional spectrum in the 5 GHz band. This new spectrum will be available to unlicensed devices. The Commission also proposed to relax regulations on wireless devices and to streamline existing rules.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the Commission is taking "a big step to ease congestion on traditional Wi-Fi networks, which will mean faster speeds and fewer headaches from U.S. consumers."
The FCC notes that the freed up spectrum will not only help decrease congestion in public spaces, but it will help increase speeds of personal wireless networks in the home. That's great news for those of who have multiple devices running on a single Wi-Fi network in the home.
Before you start lining up more devices on your personal network, know that the FCC has only voted on a proposal to free up the spectrum. The Commission now has to take public comments before making its final decision. The plan will probably not face any real opposition, however, as industry groups are already praising it.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association said that the FCC's bid to free up more spectrum will help meet increasing consumer demand:
"...existing Wi-Fi spectrum is growing increasingly congested and more must be found to meet skyrocketing consumer demand and enable increased speeds of next-generation Wi-Fi. More extensive use of the 5 GHz band, along with additional unlicensed spectrum in other bands, will permit cable companies and other innovators to continue to provide Americans with new benefits, businesses with new opportunities, and those in need with life-saving connections.”
The FCC's proposal fits snugly into its National Broadband Plan that aims to increase access to broadband across the nation. Freeing up more Wi-Fi can help accomplish that, but let's hope the Commission can get to work on setting up Gigabit networks across the nation as well.[h/t: The Hill]