Light Reading
In its first event, the new WiFiForward coalition makes the case for re-allocating wireless spectrum in the 5-gigahertz band.

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
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
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (4) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
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
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
LightSpeed Looks to Plug the Gigabit Gap
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/23/2015
Parks Predicts HBO OTT Success
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, Universal, Intel and Microsoft, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.