On April 23rd, 2020 – the FCC in the US voted to open 1,200 MHz of spectrum for Unlicensed use.
Basically, allowing for a massive change in the available spectrum we can access in our Wireless LAN designs and deployments.
As of today, there are no vendors shipping products to work in these new spaces. But within mere months we anticipate the start of players bringing hardware to this new resource.
The FCC is not finished with these frequencies – working on a higher-powered version using AFC in UNII-5 and UNII-7. There are also actions to open up the entire 1,200 MHz of 6GHz spectrum for Very Low Power usages in the future as well. But for now, the Low Power Indoor usages – up to 18dBm across the entire band!
Additionally, there is still work being done to bring to unlicensed the ‘tail’ on the right side of the current 5GHz band – specifically in UNII-4 (at least all by channel 181) – this is still in the works. The attempt at UNII-2b was thwarted – and thus we won’t have a solid contiguous chunk of spectrum from 5GHz to 7GHz… bummer. None-the-less, we have now a HUGE opportunity in this new space.
I’ve been working the past couple of weeks to learn how these new channels will be used, numbered, and how they will fit into our channel plans. So I’ve developed a couple of new graphics to help show our customers what this historic vote yesterday is going to bring to our community.
First up, an overview of the current Unlicensed bands that will be available for users in the United States, thanks to the FCC. (Hopefully, this will lead other regulatory bodies around the world to soon follow suit)
First – a tabular view comparing these three bands of unlicensed spectrum
The wavelengths also change across each frequency band. This, in turn, changes the Free Space Loss calculations slightly as you climb the various bands.
We can also compare, visually, the HUGE differences in capacity between these bands!
Note the differences between Wi-Fi, Zigbee, BLE and Bluetooth.
One final note, there will also be another option across the entire 6GHz space for Very Low Powered devices, like A/R headsets and other lower powered situations. All the FCC commissioners noted this was one of their next priorities. So we will hopefully see movement in this space soon.
Additionally, and though this is NOT yet ratified, in the EU, both ETSI and OFCOM are also working to add 6GHz to their respective regulatory bodies. Albeit, because of their own different incumbents, they are only looking at the first 500MHz of space in the UNII-5 band. But even this will basically double the unlicensed spectrum available in the European Union.
We’ve included the ability to download either the above graphics in PNG format, or in PDF format, or you can download a ZIP of all of them combined.
Feel free to use these in your own presentations, please merely give attribution and if possible link back to this post on WLAN Pros website. Here’s a short URL you can copy and paste: www.wlanpros.com/spectrum
If you find any glaring errors, please contact me and we’ll try to quickly fix any mistakes.