Light Reading

WiFiForward Presses for 5GHz

Mari Silbey
3/7/2014
50%
50%

Just three weeks ago, that cable, retail, and consumer electronics companies put aside their competitive differences and joined together to form the WiFiForward coalition. The new group has one primary goal: to make it easier to use unlicensed spectrum for the steadily growing deployments of WiFi in the US. (See Rival MSOs, Tech Rivals Unite on WiFi.)

On Friday morning, the coalition put a finer point on that mission with its inaugural event in Washington. The group's breakfast session, entitled, "WiFi in the 5 GHz Fast Lane," focused on the economic benefits of unlicensed spectrum, and specifically on the arguments for opening up new parts of the 5-gigahertz spectrum band to WiFi use.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel headlined the WiFiForward event with her take on the importance of WiFi. "WiFi is an essential on-ramp to the Internet," said Rosenworcel. "But more than that, nearly one-half of wireless data connections are now offloaded onto unlicensed spectrum."

Rosenworcel argued that in addition to looking at the 5.35-5.47GHz and 5.85-5.925GHz frequency bands, the FCC should allow the expansion of WiFi into the frequency band between 5.15 and 5.25GHz. She cited a letter from the US Department of Defense last summer, which said that it no longer needed the lower frequency band for telemetry use and that the spectrum could be re-allocated for WiFi.

"We should seize this opportunity right now," said Rosenworcel. "We can take the flexible WiFi rules that have already been the script for an unlicensed success story in the 5.725-5.825GHz band and expand them to the 5.15-5.25GHz band. If we do, we could effectively double unlicensed bandwidth in the 5 GHz band overnight."

Raul Katz, an adjunct senior research scholar at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information and the author of "The Value of Unlicensed Spectrum," also spoke at the WiFiForward event. Katz cited his own research indicating that unlicensed spectrum provided $222.4 billion in economic value in 2013. He also stated that 68% of wireless traffic is now being conducted over WiFi and noted that in some ways WiFi has become the primary wireless transport mechanism for Internet data, while mobile carrier networks now handle offload traffic.

For cable companies, securing greater WiFi capacity is critical for several reasons. Service providers need more wireless throughput in the home to support wireless video networking and more WiFi outside the home to support public hotspots and the sale of WiFi offload services.

In a final panel discussion at the WiFiForward event, several technology company and association representatives made their own arguments for opening up more unlicensed wireless spectrum. Memorably, Steve Schwartz, representing the International Association of Venue Managers, pointed out that 43% of stadiums and arenas currently offer WiFi to consumers, while another 48% plan to add WiFi to their venues this year. "We simply don't have enough capacity," Schwartz said.

That statement is likely to be a common refrain for the WiFiForward coalition in 2014.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
spc_isdnip
50%
50%
spc_isdnip,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 6:01:07 PM
Major FCC docket already open
The FCC opened a docket on 5 GHz about a year ago.  It proposes expanding unlicensed into the 5.35-5.47 and 5.85-5.925 GHz bands, and changing some other rules. The former is used for weather radar (like TV stations) now and they're a bit unhappy, the latter for intelligent transportation systems, and the car companies are uneasy.


I don't get this talk about WiFi at 5.15-5.25 though -- that has been legal since 1998 or so. That patch is resticted to indoor use only, at modest power, since it's part of Globalstar's uplink.  But the current docket proposes opening it to outdoor use too, at higher power.


They also propose ending the unlimited-ERP for point to point ISM rules for 5.725-5.850.  That would cripple some rural WISPs and limit many current users. Of course some companies with ties to the telcos support that restriction.   High antenna gain reduces out-of-path interference, but they pretend that it doesn't. The WISP industry and others have spoken up against this change.
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/10/2014 | 3:45:17 PM
Who would want to make this part of the spectrum not unlicensed?
If this part of the radio spectrum were auctioned off, would it even be valuable enough to buy up and just sit on it? This part of the spectrum is too short range to be valuable for anything but small home networks. Are there any other uses for this spectrum that would trump making it unlicensed? I can't imagine any public safety organizations would want to use these 5GHz bands for communications.... 
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
3/9/2014 | 10:23:18 PM
Re: Argument against
Right, not a real good argument against it , but probably any big mobile carrier building out LTE is ready to make an argument against, which could at least draw things out more than WiFIForward and other proponents would like.
PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/8/2014 | 5:49:32 PM
Re: Argument against
I agree Mitch. What would be a downside to this? I don't see one.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/7/2014 | 5:36:27 PM
Argument against
It's hard to think of an argument against expanding the unlicensed spectrum. This would seem to be a development that benefits everyone.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The Swedish vendor has undergone a significant transformation during the past few years, adjusting to the demands of next-generation communications companies.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Du Puts Its Faith in Huawei's Routers

4|9|15   |   3:42   |   (0) comments


Adnan Masood, director of Enterprise MS Solutions Marketing at du, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) operator also known as Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, explains why his company chose to use Huawei's multifunctional AR routers as part of its managed enterprise services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Gets Active in the Data Center

4|9|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


With enterprise users looking to maximize the use of their data center assets, Huawei’s Chief Architect & Technical Director of IT Data Center Solutions, Bruce Su, explains how the company's six-layer active-active data center solution is eradicating the need to deploy passive, redundant data center assets.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Blue Consult & Huawei for a Better Solution

4|8|15   |   4:01   |   (0) comments


Martin Rott, CEO, and Marc Metzler, head of sales virtualization, from Germany's Blue Consult discuss their collaboration with Huawei and TrendMicro to develop a secure, scalable IT platform that can meet the needs of the most demanding enterprise users.
Upcoming Live Events
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network Instruments, a JDSU division, shares results from its 2015 State of the Network, a global survey on security.
Hot Topics
Verizon Scores New OTT Content Deals
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/16/2015
Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent in Merger Talks
Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/14/2015
Nokia & Alcatel-Lucent: What's Going On?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/15/2015
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
LPWA: A Threat to 'Wait & See' IoT Operators?
Steve Bell, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading, 4/16/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.