This editorial appears in the second 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. This newsletter covers regulatory developments relating to Wi-Fi 6E with a particular emphasis on the EMEA region. It features interviews with key policymakers focused on expanding the socioeconomic benefits of Wi-Fi® and analyzes important decisions around 6 GHz availability.
Since the first edition in April, Wi-Fi 6E regulation has taken several major steps forward. The European Commission published an implementing Decision mandating that EU Member States make the lower 6 GHz band (5945-6425 MHz) available for license-exempt radio local area network (RLAN) technologies, such as Wi-Fi 6E.
Africa is moving in the same direction following the African Telecommunications Union’s validation of its Emerging Technologies working group’s recommendation to open the lower 6 GHz band (5925-6425 MHz) to license-exempt technologies. African countries can now press ahead with adopting Wi-Fi 6E, taking advantage of the economies of scale that will be created by the rollout in Europe and other parts of the world.
Looking further into the future
Rollout of Wi-Fi 6E will help to future-proof connectivity in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, but Wi-Fi will ultimately need additional spectrum capacity. The next generation of Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 7) depends on access to multiple wider (320 MHz) channels, meaning 500 MHz of spectrum in the lower 6 GHz band will be insufficient.
European policymakers will ultimately need to decide whether to also make the upper 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz) available on a license-exempt basis, similar to the decisions in Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Peru, U.S. and other countries.
Indeed, some EU governments are supporting our call for CEPT to initiate an effort to study the technical conditions for coexistence between RLANs and the incumbent fixed and fixed satellite services in the 6425-7125 MHz band. This study effort would provide administrations with a balanced view of the possible options for future use of the upper 6 GHz band.
The emerging technical consensus
Extensive work has already been done in this regard. Multi-year studies have shown that incumbent fixed services in the 6 GHz band can be protected from interference by RLANs. By contrast, the research to date suggests it is not feasible to protect 6 GHz incumbents from interference by 5G (i.e., IMT) network deployments. IMT requires transmit power levels that are orders of magnitude higher than RLANs.
More broadly, it is vital that regulators begin to consider the spectrum needs of the next generation of wireless technologies. Such effort is already underway in The Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG) – see our interview with the head of the ASMG, Eng. Tariq Al Awadhi and his colleague Eng. Sultan Albalooshi. As these prominent spectrum policymakers note, it is essential to plan now for future technologies, such as Wi-Fi 7.
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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