HomeInsightsOfcom consults on increasing spectrum for Wi-Fi in 5 GHz band

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Ofcom has confirmed plans to increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz band. Ofcom says that in the future, this could enable better wireless broadband for consumers.

Ofcom explains that as broadband delivered to the home gets faster, people increasingly expect their Wi-Fi to provide several services at once, such as video streaming, video calls, gaming and remote working. This demand puts pressure on the spectrum that carries Wi-Fi signals.

Many Wi-Fi routers in the UK currently use a part of the spectrum called the 2.4 GHz band, which is becoming increasingly congested and can impair broadband performance. Many people have newer broadband routers, which use not only the 2.4 GHz band, but also the 5 GHz band, which has much more spectrum and is less congested.

Ofcom has decided to open up an additional “sub-band” within the 5.8 GHz section of the 5 GHz band. In deciding to do so, it has taken into account the impact on other existing users, such as satellite services.

The extra sub-band will result in 125 MHz more spectrum. This will allow for two more 80MHz channels to accommodate data-hungry applications. These extra channels are already being used in other countries, including the US.

In order to implement the decision, Ofcom is now consulting with UK stakeholders on proposed regulations that will allow Wi-Fi use in this band. The making of the new regulations will also be contingent on any comments the European Commission may have on the technical parameters Ofcom proposes to apply to the use of the band.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 11 April 2017. To access the consultation, click here.

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