WiFi Performance to Improve As FCC Opens Unlicensed Frequencies

logo-5In February, the Wall Street Journal reported on the formation of a new lobbying group called WifiForward that advocated the opening up of unlicensed frequencies to alleviate Wi-Fi congestion and improve performance. The group consisted of industry partners including Google, Best Buy, Microsoft, and many others.

On Monday, the FCC announced that it was freeing up more airwaves for Wi-Fi usage in the U.S. The WiFiForward group wrote in response to the ruling:

Today, the FCC voted unanimously to unleash more unlicensed spectrum will support all the things we already use and further drive investment and experimentation—a 50% increase in spectrum available for Wi-Fi, to be exact. Consumer devices are already equipped to operate in the band, so they can easily be adapted to quickly take advantage of new 5 GHz channels. And a new Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, has just been approved for the 5 GHz band. 802.11ac’s wide channels will allow for a better consumer experience.

The group indicates that consumer devices will be "easily" adapted to take advantage of the new 5GHz channels, and that 802.11ac will be able to take advantage of the new bandwidth.

802.11ac or "Gigabit" Wi-Fi offers speeds up to three times as fast as existing 802.11n wireless networks. 802.11ac has been introduced into Apple's Mac line starting in 2013, and is expected to be included in the iPhone 6 later this year.

Top Rated Comments

unobtainium Avatar
108 months ago
Pretty meaningless until the ISP's catch up. I'll take Google Fiber any time, please!

Not meaningless at all. WiFi is used for local network transfers as well.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
108 months ago
Not meaningless at all. WiFi is used for local network transfers as well.

also, it seems it will help for congested areas (public wifi)
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ks-man Avatar
108 months ago
You'll need to be running routers and client devices that both support the extra frequencies. How long do you think it will take for all those firmware updates to trickle down to "commonplace", especially when most networking gear makers will prefer to make you buy a new router to get the extra functions.

"Pretty meaningless" is actually pretty accurate.

So you are saying we should stymie progress for the future b/c we might not get the full benefit today? I'm glad people like Edison, Franklin and Bell didn't share your beliefs.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alent1234 Avatar
108 months ago
This is why Netgear and Linksys as well as other consumer companies need to provide software and a scanning tool that measures the signal around the house. You can actually get better speeds/strength if you control the signal to just extend to the furthest area you need and not going past that.

At our office, our WiFi AP's range 100 feet - spaced out every 80-90 feet. Our software offers a heatmap of the signal strength throughout the building and we only fix the dead spots if there's a usable seating location in the area. No need to add signal to a corner of the building that no one would ever be at.


just look at the networks your computer can pick up. i get 40 where i live in NYC
it's so bad i use ethernet on my xbox and apple tv. they sit next to my router and i used to get disconnects even from a few feet away

wifi is always disconnecting. people blame comcast or time warner but it's almost always them using wifi in a dense area
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tiger8 Avatar
108 months ago
Well, it’s kind of obvious what he’s suggesting: if the concern is Internet performance, the bottleneck is on the ISP side. That’s an old argument, i.e., the old “If my internet connection is only 50Mbps, why do I care if my WiFi runs at 300Mbps"

Of course, those of us - including the posters above - understand there’s benefits outside of that simple equation :D As has been pointed out: loosening congestion to internet access points, general network performance (especially those of us who move around lots of data, including things like backup across the network), plus the potential for integrity and range improvements, etc. :)

True, but even for the home user less congestion means higher speed. To me it's a car and highway analogy; the article is saying that a highway is going to add more lanes, what the poster is suggesting is that this is useless since the speed limit is only 60 Mph, and wont' get you home faster.

But the truth is, more lanes = less traffic, meaning that you are very likely to breeze through at a consistnet 60 Mph rather than having to slow down (or come to stand still) due to traffic.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SeaFox Avatar
108 months ago
Well not every device needs to be changed out all at once. I'm sure the cable companies monitor congestion levels in the places they have their hotspots. They only need to swap out the most congested places first.
Not sure why people are focusing on ISPs for. Congestion on ISP-run hotspots isn't so much an issue (everyone on the network is on the same network). It's home networks in densely populated areas were there's trouble. Many people all running wireless networks for their own personal use, broadcasting at levels where the signal reaches far beyond their own property, and trying to use the same wireless channels for their network.

More frequency channels and less overlap between channels will help resolve the congestion more. It also would help if it was easier to adjust the output power of a transmitter so it doesn't reach out further than needed. This would allow more networks to coexist peacefully in an area and even improve network security, too.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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