Modern wireless devices, from smartphones to tablets to wearable technologies, often rely on access to both a licensed cellular connection and unlicensed Wi-Fi for access to the Internet. Indeed, this access to both licensed and unlicensed airwaves has powered the mobile revolution to date.
That’s why we’re happy that as the FCC moves forward with its plan to auction more airwaves for licensed mobile use in the 600 MHz band, it has also made progress toward the goal of making three channels in this band available nationwide for unlicensed use. Once the FCC completes its work--including ensuring access to adequate spectrum in areas where a broadcaster may be placed in the “duplex gap” between wireless uplink and downlink, and fully implementing shared access to Channel 37, which is not used for television--these rules will ensure that unlicensed white spaces devices have opportunities to operate as spectrum is recovered from broadcasters and repurposed for wireless broadband.
By adopting a balanced approach to spectrum use that includes both licensed and unlicensed spectrum, the FCC helps ensure that consumers can get online, communicate, connect their devices, and have a quality experience on devices they choose, no matter where they are. Access to this new, low-frequency unlicensed spectrum means far better wide-area Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming a movie to any TV in your home, changing your thermostat settings no matter where you are, transferring photos from your camera to your computer, or answering your door from anywhere using your smartphone.
People rely more and more on Wi-Fi every day to live a connected life. In 2013 Wi-Fi, today’s most commonly used unlicensed technology, contributed over $6.7 billion to the U.S. GDP. The FCC’s order, released this week, recognizes the value to the economy of investments in unlicensed as well as licensed technologies.