Wi-Fi group calls for more unlicenced spectrum

A wireless industry group called WifiForward, is calling on United States policy makers to open up unlicenced spectrum for Wi-Fi and other uses to head off potential congestion brought about by the increasing wireless data traffic.

The coalition, which includes companies such as the Arris Group, Best Buy, Comcast, Google, Microsoft and Time Warner Cable said its mission is to protect and strengthen existing unlicenced spectrum designations; free up new spectrum for unlicenced used at a variety of frequencies; and establish transparent and predictable unlicenced rules.

Although a number of Canadian carriers and cites are offering Wi-Fi services — Shaw Communications is offering one of the largest to its cable subscribers in Western Canada — no similar push for increasing unlicenced spectrum has been launched here, according to Iain Grant, managing director of the SeaBoard Group telecom consultancy.

WifiForward is pushing its agenda through the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing proceedings to open up the 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Grant said that if the FCC considers new unlicenced bands it would consult with Industry Canada and the International Telecommunications Union.

Google and Microsoft are also calling for unlicenced TV white space (TVWS spectrum) worldwide to enable free or inexpensive access to the Internet.

WifiForward released an economic study showing that unlicenced spectrum generated $222 billion in value to the U.S. economy last year and contributed $6.7 billion to the country’s gross domestic product.

The figures were based on the estimated $3.12 billion value of Wi-Fi offloading, $1.439 billion value of wireless Internet service providers’ operations, and revenues of about $2.166 billion from the sales of Bluetooth, Zigbee and WirelessHART products.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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