FCC Opens the Door to  Very Low Power Devices Running on the 6 GHz Band Alongside Wi-Fi





Today, the Federal Communications Commission opened the 6 GHz band to a new class of very low power devices that operate alongside other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The new rules will contribute to an eco-system of “cutting-edge applications,” such as wearable technologies and augmented and virtual reality.

Very low power devices such as smartphones and fitness trackers can help businesses operate, enhance learning opportunities for children and adults, advance healthcare solutions, and introduce people to new entertainment experiences.

The FCC expanded unlicensed use in the 1,200 MHz spectrum ranging between 5.925 and 7.125 GHz, establishing Wi-Fi 6E. This spectrum is building the foundation for the next generation of internet connection, Wi-Fi 7. The rules approved today build off this stepping stone and allow other types of operations to use the 6 GHz band.

The new FCC rules will provide more flexibility and help encourage unlicensed innovations, such as wearable sensor technologies. Devices running across short distances at very low power are permitted on the 6 GHz band. They use high connection speeds ideal for high-data rate applications, which the FCC says will “enrich consumer experiences and bolster the nation’s economy,” including virtual and augmented reality. 

The rules limit the devices to only very low power levels. They must meet technical and operational requirements outlined by the FCC to be permitted to work across the U.S. to protect incumbent licensed services operating on the 6 GHz band. VLP operations in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 parts of the 6 GHz band, equaling 850 MGHz of the spectrum. Devices running any lower can do so without needing a frequency coordination system. 

The FCC is considering expanding operations of very low power unlicensed devices to the remaining 6 GHz band. This would permit more flexibility in operating VLP devices through higher power levels that require a geofencing system to protect other licensed operations on the band from interference.

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