This editorial appears in the first 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 first edition of the Wi-Fi 6E Insights newsletter. Wi-Fi 6E refers to Wi-Fi 6 devices operating in the 5925 - 7125 MHz (“6 GHz”) frequency band. In this newsletter, Wi-Fi Alliance will share updates on regulatory developments in the growing Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem, with a particular focus on the EMEA region. We will bring you interviews with key policymakers focused on expanding the socioeconomic benefits of Wi-Fi® connectivity and analyze key decisions around 6 GHz.
Recognizing the important benefits delivered by Wi-Fi 6E, regulators around the world are opening the 6 GHz unlicensed band for Wi-Fi, paving the way for additional capacity, greater speed, and reduced latency for critical activities, such as telecommuting, telepresence, and distance learning. A new animation produced by Wi-Fi Alliance highlights the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6E.
In March, Saudi Arabia’s spectrum regulator decided to make the entire 5925-7125 MHz frequency band available for Wi-Fi 6E deployments. The European Commission is expected to finalize regulations to allow license-exempt technologies, such as Wi-Fi 6E, to operate in the lower-6 GHz band (i.e., 5925- 6425 MHz). With Wi-Fi 6E equipment now available from multiple vendors along with greater worldwide 6 GHz spectrum availability, users are set to see enhancements in their connectivity during 2021.
The cost of inaction
One of the most powerful messages in this inaugural edition is delivered by Commissioner Carlos Manuel Baigorri, of Brazil’s regulator Anatel, in an exclusive interview. He flagged the high cost of leaving the 6 GHz spectrum underutilized, noting that better connectivity will play a key role in delivering a swift recovery from the pandemic.
Recently, Brazil’s regulators adopted a decision to allow Wi-Fi operations throughout the entire 1200 MHz in the 6 GHz band in channels of up to 320 MHz, paving the way for further innovation and enhancements to Wi-Fi's capabilities: wide channels will enable Wi-Fi to support very demanding services, such as the delivery of high-definition virtual reality content.
By making the full 6 GHz band available for Wi-Fi, Brazil will benefit from growing global economies of scale – Chile, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the U.S. have also opened up the entire band, while Canada, Costa Rica, Japan, Jordan, Qatar, and Taiwan are moving in this direction.
Commissioner Baigorri also highlighted the critical role Wi-Fi plays in offloading traffic from mobile cellular networks. Regulators in the EMEA region are also recognizing that the future of wireless broadband is inextricably linked to Wi-Fi performance, especially with more than 80% of cellular traffic delivered via Wi-Fi. Regulators in Africa, the Arab States, and Europe are reassessing policy priorities in an effort to balance licensed, lightly licensed and unlicensed services.
In adopting the roadmap to become a world leader in radiocommunications, Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) accurately observed that there will be cases where complementary technologies are needed, such as Wi-Fi, to offload some mobile traffic and enable access to fixed communication services. Pointing to the important role of WLAN in Saudi Arabia and “the substantial amount of Wi-Fi traffic”, the CITC also highlighted the “emergence of a promising device ecosystem that can enable a wide range of innovative digital services.” More than 338 million Wi-Fi 6E devices will enter the market in 2021, according to research firm IDC.
Regulators across EMEA are reaching similar conclusions. As Africa’s telecommunications ecosystem develops, there is growing recognition across that continent of the need to make more mid-band spectrum available for Wi-Fi access. The African Telecommunications Union’s (ATU) ‘Emerging Technologies Task Group’ is now recommending that African administrations open up the lower part of the 6 GHz band (5945-6425 MHz) to Wi-Fi. With EU Member States also set to join the U.K. and make the lower 6 GHz band available on a license-exempt basis before the end of 2021, Wi-Fi 6E momentum is building fast.
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.
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