FCC promises to free up spectrum for 35 percent faster WiFi

Josh Peterson | Tech Editor

WiFi speeds of up to 35 percent faster than current speeds may soon be available, a top Obama official announced Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the FCC would soon be leading a government-wide effort to increase nationwide WiFi speeds by allocating 195MHz of the 5Hz band currently already in use by federal and non-federal workers.

“This will increase and free up the unlicensed spectrum available for ultra-high-speed, high-capacity Wi-Fi – known as ‘Gigabit Wi-Fi’ – by up to 35 percent,” the agency said in a statement.

“Unlicensed spectrum” are licensed-free frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum band available for private or public use. WiFi signals make use of unlicensed spectrum.

The initiative, Genachowski said, would alleviate traffic congestion at major public gathering locations, such as airports, convention centers and large conference gatherings, CNET reported Wednesday. It would also allow for faster WiFi speeds in the home, as well as allow for multiple HD video streams.

Genachowski told conference-goers that the effort would spur entire new industries, pointing to the innovation that has taken place since the FCC opened up unlicensed spectrum nearly 30 years ago.

“When the FCC helped pioneer Wi-Fi nearly thirty years ago – through an innovative spectrum policy that relied on unlicensed use – no one knew the potential it held,” said Genachowski.

“But that FCC-created platform for innovation gave us cordless phones, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, benefiting consumers and our economy massively,” he said.

“We’ll keep nurturing today’s Wi-Fi as we also develop a next generation of spectrum policies to drive our mobile future for our innovators and our economy,” he said.

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