- January 9, 2013 05:24pm EST
LAS VEGAS—At major conferences like CES, organizers typically offer some sort of Wi-Fi access, but attendees rarely rely on it due to the glacial speeds caused by congestion.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski apparently wants to do something about that, announcing during a CES appearance here that the commission will move to free up 195 megahertz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band. The move would be the largest block of unlicensed spectrum to be made available for the expansion of Wi-Fi since 2003, the FCC said, and would help ease Wi-Fi congestion at major hubs like airports, convention centers, and large conference gatherings.
“We all know the frustration of Wi-Fi congestion at conferences and airports. Today, the FCC is moving to bring increased speed and capacity to Wi-Fi networks by increasing the amount of unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi,” Genachowski said in a statement. “As this spectrum comes on line, we expect it to relieve congested Wi-Fi networks at major hubs like convention centers and airports. It will also help in homes as tablets and smartphones proliferate and video use rises.”
One problem – the 5 GHz band is already being used by other agencies and organizations, but Genachowski said the FCC will “move expeditiously to complete the proceeding.”
Freeing up spectrum has been on the FCC’s “to do” list for quite some time now. Everyone wants a piece of the pie – from wireless carriers to first responders, but the sticking point has been how best to dole it out so that smaller players aren’t left out.
In September, more than two years after the FCC unveiled its National Broadband Plan, the agency formally kicked off the incentive auction process, which will offer up broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband use. With the move, broadcast TV stations with unused spectrum will be able to sell it to wireless carriers hungry for extra bandwidth. Those auctions are expected to take place in 2014.
In the meantime, telecom companies have been swapping spectrum amongst themselves, including Verizon, which purchased $3.6 billion worth of spectrum from a collective of cable companies last year.
In June 2010, President Obama ordered the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) within Commerce to work with the FCC to free up 500-MHz of spectrum over the next 10 years.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
- Boeing Expands In-Flight Wi-Fi Options
- Broadcom Eyes Smartphones, Tablets With New 4G LTE Chip
- AT&T Gets a Qualcomm Consolation Prize
- Verizon Expands 4G LTE, Plans to Double Footprint by Year’s End
- AT&T Expanding 4G LTE Network to 11 New Cities
- Google Unveils Free Wi-Fi in NY’s Chelsea Neighborhood
- Microsoft Sponsoring Free Boingo Wi-Fi in NYC, San Francisco
- Free Wi-Fi is Gone Forever
- Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wireless Predictions and Projects for 2012
- Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Network to Hit 400 Markets Next Week