updated 03:17 pm EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
New bandwidth intended to ease congestion, boost speeds in crowds
In a unanimous vote, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is opening up 100MHz in the lower part of the 5GHz spectrum for new-build Wi-Fi devices. The bandwidth opening is intended to increase traffic and capacity in public venues like parks and libraries.
The bandwidth was reserved, and used in the past, for satellite phone companies. The commission freed only half of the 195MHz that the original proposal requested. Additionally, the agency also modified certain technical rules to improve protection for systems by requiring manufacturers to secure their devices against illegal modification which could cause interference to users in the band.
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said of the vote that "we have to be ambitious in finding more ways to provide licensed and unlicensed spectrum for commercial services." Clyburn also noted that she "looks forward to the staff's efforts to free up an additional 195 megahertz" in a future effort.