Ofcom Wants More 5GHz Spectrum For Wi-Fi Routers

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Ofcom wants more spectrum to be made available to Wi-Fi routers, claiming 6m homes and offices have sub par wireless connections

Ofcom wants to make more 5GHz spectrum available for Wi-Fi routers, claiming the additional airwaves will allow for quicker, more reliable connections for the estimated six million homes and offices that duffer from sub-par wireless.

Most Wi-Fi routers use the 2.4GHz band, but these frequencies are becoming increasingly congested as more devices compete for the same spectrum. This can disrupt data intensive applications such as cloud and video streaming.

Modern routers also support the 5GHz band, which has much more spectrum. Ofcom wants to open up more frequencies within this band to increase the number of 80MHz channels available from four to six.

Wi-Fi spectrum

TP Link SR20 touschreen routerThese ‘sub band’ airwaves are already available in the US, making it more attractive for equipment manufacturers to update their products. Ofcom suggests the frequencies could be usable within a “few years”, allowing time for the associated technical studies and manufacturer adoption.

“People are placing greater demands on their broadband, so we need to ensure they aren’t let down by their wireless connection,” said Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum at Ofcom. “We also want to close the gap between advertised speeds and the wireless performance that people and businesses actually receive. So we’re exploring ways to open up more airwaves for Wi-Fi.”

Wireless routers use unlicensed spectrum, but Wi-Fi stakeholders, and other users of spectrum such as broadcasters and special events, are becoming increasingly concerned by the mobile industry’s drive to gain as much bandwidth – both licensed and unlicensed – as possible for cellular services.

Mobile operators such as Vodafone are using unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum to boost their 4G networks using Licence-Assisted Access (LAA) technology, or LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U). Vodafone tested LAA in the Netherlands and claims there was no interference to existing Wi-Fi networks.

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