Yesterday the FCC Unanimously Voted to Modernize Low Power FM Radio Rules to make 6 GHz Band available for unlicensed use
On January 3, 2020 Patently Apple posted a report titled "The WiFi Alliance introduced Wi-Fi 6E today just as CES 2020 is about to begin next Week." While the WiFi Alliance was preparing this standard for later this year, yesterday's FCC ruling will ensure that this gets fast tracked. On April 2 Patently Apple posted a follow-up report titled "FCC Chairman Pai Proposes new rules for the 6 GHz Band, Unleashing 1,200 Megahertz for Unlicensed Use." The draft rules were circulated to all of the FCC Commissioners and this is what they voted unanimously on yesterday.
In a surprising development the the FCC Commissioners voted unanimously to freeing up the whole 6 GHz band (5.925–7.125 GHz) for unlicensed use, rather than licensing some of it to mobile operators. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated after the voted that "By doing this, we are effectively increasing the amount of mid-band spectrum available for Wi-Fi by almost a factor of five. This will be a huge benefit to consumers and innovators across the nation."
Wi-Fi NOW’s Claus Hetting, a champion of Wi-Fi innovation, said it perfectly: "The truth is that this 6 GHz spectrum boost will launch the Wi-Fi Industry into a new growth trajectory. It will boost Wi-Fi's massive indoor dominance and surely, with the help of emboldened entrepreneurs everywhere, it will bring low-cost Wi-Fi (and unlicensed) connectivity to places where it has never been."
Commissioner Geoffrey Starks stated that "The 6 GHz spectrum is expected to complement 5G wireless service and unleash a wave of innovation for the Internet of Things."
More importantly, and perhaps applicable to tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, Starks added that "It will allow doctors to conduct complex examinations and procedures remotely, enable the training of students and workers using virtual and augmented reality, and spur the next generation of streaming content and gaming."
In 2017 during a Financial Conference Call Apple's CEO Tim Cook stated "Simply put, we believe augmented reality is going to change the way we use technology forever. We’re already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn."
More recently, Tim Cook made a statement while in Ireland: "I’m excited about AR. In my view it’s the next big thing, and it will pervade our entire lives."
Cook's enthusiasm and passion towards AR is equally matched by Apple's wave of patents covering both a Head Mounded Display device and smartglasses that will deliver the applications that will make such an impact to pervade our lives.
In addition, there's another wave of patents could be found in our archives under Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality. Apple's body of work in this area of technology is rather deep and wide.
Commissioner Brendan Carr stated yesterday that "We don’t know what the future holds, but maybe the present pandemic gives us some clues about what’s around the corner. Millions of kids, including mine, are out of school today and stuck at home. Teachers and parents are working hard to keep them learning." Opening up 6 GHz could be a huge boost to innovative educators to offer quality and interactive in-home classes – and something that Apple is likely to take advantage for education in the future.
Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance stated that "Extending Wi-Fi into the 6 GHz spectrum band can provide more Wi-Fi capacity than all the other bands put together. What’s more, using Wi-Fi 6 technology in the extended band (also known as Wi-Fi 6E) will deliver higher speeds, low latency and service levels that are equivalent to 5G networks and be able to support the widespread, low-cost, use of advanced business, industrial and consumer applications. In terms of the capability and capacity of networks, Wi-Fi 6E, will rewrite the rules of what is possible."
Wi-Fi 6E technology is designed to deliver performance in highly congested places and the next phase of our trials will prove that performance in real world locations. These trials will demonstrate the application and the benefits of the technology in live environments and through this accelerate the adoption and creation of new business opportunities enabled by the opening of the 6GHz spectrum to be used for Wi-Fi services."
We know that Apple will be supporting WiFi 6E in a significant way as they signed a $15 billion dollar deal with Broadcom for a wide range of high-performance wireless components including Wi-Fi 6E chipsets.
The Netherlands Wi-Fi NOW added in February that "The two 3.5 year contracts include delivery of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chipsets for iPhones and other Apple products. This and other recent Wi-Fi 6 supply deals mean that Broadcom has taken a commanding lead in the race to supply consumers and businesses with new, more powerful Wi-Fi 6 technology.
While the iPhone 11 Pro offers the entry standard of Wi-Fi 6, PCmag reported back in September 2019 that Wi-Fi 6 didn't provide any advantage over Apple's iPhone XS. The advantages will be prevalent when next-gen iPhones adopt Wi-Fi 6E – so stay tuned for that.
For those of you that are wireless engineers and/or a part of this industry, you could review the FCC's PDF on Low Power FM Radio Service Technical Rules that was voted on yesterday here.