FCC proposal hopes to grow WiFi spectrum by 35 percent, reduce hotspot congestion

Sick of overloaded public WiFi? So is the FCC. Back at CES FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said we were heading for a WiFi "traffic jam," and promised to work with Government agencies to score public networks a little extra spectrum. In an effort to make good on the pledge, the FCC has now proposed a 195 megahertz expansion of the 5GHz band, giving unlicensed wireless devices (that would be your tablets, laptops, phones etc) a little bandwidth to share. The move would give devices a wider channel, which should translate to faster connection speeds. It isn't all just for the sake of your local coffee shop's network congestion, however -- the proposal also fulfills requirements laid out by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act of 2012, which called for expanding spectrum for unlicensed use. Sounds like a winning move to us. Check out the FCC's official press announcement after the break.

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Washington, D.C. -- The Federal Communications Commission today takes the first steps to unleash significant additional spectrum to accelerate the growth and expansion of new Wi-Fi technology that can offer faster speeds of one gigabit per second or more, increase overall capacity, and reduce congestion at Wi-Fi hot spots.

The Commission proposed to make up to 195 megahertz of additional spectrum in the 5 GHz band (a 35% increase) available to unlicensed wireless devices. It also proposed to create a more flexible regulatory environment, and to streamline existing rules and equipment authorization procedures for devices throughout this band.

Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices today operate in 555 megahertz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band, and are used for short range, high speed wireless connections including Wi-Fi enabled local area networks and fixed outdoor broadband transceivers used by wireless Internet service providers to connect smart phones, tablets and laptops to the broadband network.

The proposed modifications would provide access to additional contiguous spectrum with consistent technical requirements, allowing unlicensed devices to use wider bandwidth channels, leading to faster speeds.

Importantly, the initiation of this proceeding also carries out the course of action prescribed by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act of 2012 for expanding spectrum for unlicensed use.