Wi-Fi 6E Insights: Q4 2021 Editorial
December 20, 2021 by Alex Roytblat
This editorial appears in the final 2021 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. Wi-Fi Alliance® will continue to distribute this newsletter in 2022.
In 2021, governments in EMEA took major steps to ensure their citizens will benefit from the high-quality Wi-Fi 6E connectivity. But more needs to be done.
To fulfill their potential to deliver compelling new applications and services, Wi-Fi 6E and future Wi-Fi® generations including Wi‑Fi 7 will need access to the full 1200 MHz of spectrum available in the 6 GHz band. Whereas some countries – such as Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the U.S. – have made the full 1200 MHz available, most of EMEA is not there yet.
Still, significant progress occurred in November with the decision by the ECC (Europe’s Electronic Communications Committee) to adopt a work item to study possible technical conditions under which wireless access systems, including radio local area networks, could operate and coexist with existing services in the 6425-7125 MHz band. The Spectrum Engineering working group of CEPT (the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) is set to meet soon to initiate the study, which should provide administrations with all the information they need to determine how best to harness this key tranche of spectrum.
This work is likely to confirm that low power Wi-Fi systems can happily coexist with incumbent fixed and satellite services in the upper part of the 6 GHz band, just as they can in the lower part of the band. In an interview for the previous edition of this newsletter, Aarti Holla-Maini, secretary general of the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), made it clear that low power Wi-Fi systems are a much better fit with the existing users of the spectrum than higher power IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications) systems, which could cause interference. Some regulators have reached a similar conclusion.
More voices calling for more spectrum for Wi-Fi
Stakeholders from across the economy are calling for the EU to open the full 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi. At an online event in November, Paulo Valente, a policy expert at the European Digital SME Alliance, warned European Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) could be hampered by the fact that the region has so far only made 480 MHz of the 6 GHz band license-exempt.1 In an open letter to the EU institutions, organizations representing start-ups, satellite operators, mixed-reality developers, and the video games sector also cautioned that a failure to make the full 6 GHz band available for Wi-Fi would mean European citizens, SMEs, start-ups, and other industries will not benefit from the same high-performance advanced products and services as their counterparts in other regions of the world.
Unfortunately, the new ECC work item does not require the final report on wireless access systems in the upper 6 GHz band to be completed until after WRC-23, which will consider the future of this spectrum in ITU Region 1. While this timing is far from ideal, we are hopeful that the studies will make sufficient progress over the next two years to inform the discussions at WRC-23, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates in November and December 2023.
In the meantime, the Wi-Fi ecosystem is working closely with the countries that co-signed the ECC work item and other members of CEPT to ensure that Europe can meet the connectivity needs of all its citizens. By providing high-speed broadband access at low cost, Wi-Fi helps to bridge the digital divide, supports the digital economy, and empowers individuals to participate in the digital society.
Wi-Fi is the affordable option
For individuals, Wi-Fi is often the most cost-effective way to get online, enabling extensive use of internet-based applications and services without incurring the high connectivity charges associated with cellular contracts. For those reasons, Wi-Fi will be key to meeting the European Commission’s digital targets for 2030, which call for gigabit connectivity to be available to everyone in the EU.
As Wi-Fi service providers do not need to participate in auctions to license spectrum, the technology provides a very cost-effective form of connectivity. Wi-Fi can also be used to enable multiple people to share the same fixed or mobile broadband connection – a concept known as a community network. Thanks in part to spectrum harmonization, the global Wi-Fi ecosystem benefits from enormous economies of scale, enabling manufacturers to produce very cost-effective products. The cost of licensing intellectual property related to Wi-Fi is also much lower than with cellular technologies.
If governments across EMEA made the full 6 GHz band license-exempt, Wi-Fi will benefit from global harmonization, lowering the cost of high-quality connectivity for people throughout Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In 2022, we will continue to work closely with Administrations in Africa, the Arab World, and Europe to help their citizens take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6E and the compelling services and experiences this exciting new technology can deliver.
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.
1 According to an article by PolicyTracker
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.