Washington, DC — October 19, 2023 — The Federal Communications Commission today opened the 6 GHz band to a new class of very low power devices that will operate alongside other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. These rules will spur an eco-system of cutting-edge applications, including wearable technologies and augmented and virtual reality, that will help businesses, enhance learning opportunities, advance healthcare opportunities, and bring new entertainment experiences.
The 6 GHz band is important for next generation Wi-Fi operations. The FCC, in recent years, expanded unlicensed use in 1,200 megahertz of spectrum between 5.925 and 7.125 GHz. That FCC decision has helped usher in Wi-Fi 6E, set the stage for upcoming Wi-Fi 7—the next generation of Wi-Fi—and played a major role in the growth of the Internet of Things. Today’s rules build off this success to allow for other types of operations in the band.
Recognizing the need to provide even more flexibility and foster unlicensed innovation, the Commission established rules that permit devices that operate at very low power (VLP) across short distances and provide very high connection speeds, which are ideal for the types of high-data rate cutting-edge applications that will both enrich consumer experiences and bolster the nation’s economy. These include, for example, advanced augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), wearable sensors and technologies, and variety of Internet of Things devices. The new rules however are careful to limit these devices to very low power levels and subject them to other technical and operational requirements that will permit these devices to operate across the United States while protecting incumbent licensed services that operate in the 6 GHz band.
Specifically, the new rules authorize VLP operations in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 portions of the 6 GHz band totaling 850 megahertz of spectrum. Operations at power levels significantly lower than other unlicensed 6 GHz devices could occur anywhere, indoors or outdoors, without any need for a frequency coordination system.
The Commission also proposed expanding operation of these very low power unlicensed devices to the remainder of the 6 GHz band and permitting VLP devices more operational flexibility through higher power levels subject to a geofencing system that provides interference protection to licensed incumbent operations in the band.