The Beacon

Wi-Fi 6E Insights: Q3 2021 Editorial

October 21, 2021 by Alex Roytblat

This editorial appears in the third issue of our Wi-Fi 6E Insights newsletter, a quarterly newsletter sharing updates on regulatory developments in the growing Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem. To subscribe to the newsletter, please sign up here.

Welcome to the latest edition of the Wi-Fi 6E Insights newsletter. Wi-Fi 6E refers to Wi-Fi 6 services in the 5925-7125 MHz (the 6 GHz) frequency band. This newsletter shares important information about Wi-Fi 6E global developments with a focus on the EMEA region, and provides  exclusive editorial only available to newsletter readers.

After several years of meticulous work by the Wi-Fi® industry and regulators, it is great to see Wi-Fi 6E now being deployed across the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) area. On 14 July, Germany became the first European Union (EU) Member State to implement the EC Decision on the harmonized use of the lower 6 GHz band (5945-6425 MHz) band by wireless access systems, including radio local area networks (WAS/RLANs). Estonia has also followed suit enabling consumers and enterprises in these countries to tap into the fast-growing Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem.

In Europe, attention is now turning to the upper 6 GHz (6425-7125 MHz) band, which is already being made available for use by Wi-Fi 6E in Brazil, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States. The ECC Plenary in early November will likely consider whether to initiate a study in the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) on the technical conditions for coexistence between WAS/RLANs and the incumbent fixed service and fixed satellite services in this band. This initiative is being led by the Czech regulator and appears to be growing in support; such a study would provide administrations with a balanced view of the potential options for future use of the upper 6 GHz band.

Momentum builds in Africa

Africa is also close to harnessing the potential of Wi-Fi 6E. Connectivity in the continent is moving forward following the recommendation by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) that administrations make the lower 6 GHz band licence-exempt with the same power limits as in Europe. Importantly, the ATU preparatory meeting for WRC-23 approved the adoption of the Africa Spectrum Allocation Plan (AfriSAP) which recommends license-exempt WAS/RLANs in the lower 6 GHz band, in line with the ATU Recommendation.

Now the onus is on Africa’s governments to implement the ATU recommendation and reap the substantial economic benefits of Wi-Fi 6E. Assuming it opens up the 6 GHz band on a licence-exempt basis, Nigeria, for example, could see the economic value of Wi-Fi rise to US$33 billion in 2025 (from US$16 billion in 2021), according to new analysis commissioned by Wi-Fi Alliance®. The same research found that the total economic value of Wi-Fi in Egypt is set to nearly double to US$17 billion in 2025.

Protecting satellite-based services

It is not just the Wi-Fi ecosystem that is calling for regulators to consider license-exempt access to the upper 6 GHz band. Satellite operators, which are playing a key role in expanding access to connectivity, are also advocating that this spectrum be used by low power licence-exempt technologies, rather than IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications). Ahead of the ATU preparatory meeting for WRC-23, the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) submitted an input contribution encouraging ATU administrations to assess the need to use the 6425-7125 MHz band for Wi-Fi applications.

Why is ESOA so engaged on this issue? Our interview with ESOA Secretary General Aarti Holla-Maini in this newsletter edition shows that satellite operators are concerned that if IMT services were to operate in the upper 6 GHz band, existing satellite services would suffer serious interference. By contrast, low power Wi-Fi services should be able to happily coexist with the incumbent satellite services, as well as the existing fixed services

Speaking at an Arab Spectrum Management Group workshop at the end of September, Ms. Holla-Maini noted that more than 100 GEO satellites use the 6 GHz band for uplinks across all regions. She explained that mobile satellite service (MSS) feeder links support critical safety services, the remote control and safe operation of satellites, video distribution and other commercial services. “We also have non-geostationary satellites (NGSO) MSS downlinks using the upper part of the 6 GHz band,” Ms. Holla-Maini added. “And here we have companies who have gateway earth stations all over the world, which enable global voice, data, and IoT services. We know that the demand for these services is on the rise.”

Given the importance of these services to the overall connectivity mix, we will continue to work closely with ESOA and other members of the satellite ecosystem to map out a future in which both Wi-Fi and satellite service can coexist peacefully in the 6 GHz band.

We hope you find this newsletter a useful source of information on Wi-Fi 6E and its potential to drive socioeconomic progress. If you would like to receive further editions, please subscribe, or download previous newsletter editions.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Wi-Fi Alliance at info@wi-fi.org.

The statements and opinions by each Wi-Fi Alliance member and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Wi-Fi Alliance or any other member. Wi-Fi Alliance is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by any member in posting to or commenting on this blog. Concerns should be directed to info@wi-fi.org.

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Alex Roytblat

Wi-Fi Alliance

Vice President, Worldwide Regulatory Affairs

Alex Roytblat is Vice President of Worldwide Regulatory Affairs, where he is responsible for the organization’s overall regulatory strategy. In his role, Alex works with the Wi-Fi Alliance members and the executive team on the development of regulatory objectives and directs advocacy for the implementation of these objectives with governments, regulators and international organizations.

With over 20 years of experience in the field of international telecom regulations, Alex is an internationally recognized industry advocate. Prior to joining Wi-Fi Alliance, Alex served at the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where he was involved in all phases of domestic and international radio spectrum management processes. Previously, Alex held technical roles for Stanford Telecommunications and Booz Allen & Hamilton. He holds a Master of Science in Communications Networks from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (Eta Kappa Nu) from George Mason University.