Today the FCC has taken concrete steps to radically improve everyone’s Wi-Fi by rewriting rules to make 100 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band available for Wi-Fi – a 50% increase. This enormous addition to the Wi-Fi spectrum pool will not only alleviate congestion, it paves the way for the adoption of the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, which engineers call 802.11ac.
This new technology will enable Comcast and others to offer Wi-Fi speeds approaching 1Gbps – that’s why many refer to it as Gigabit Wi-Fi. Once Gigabit Wi-Fi is deployed, consumers will be able enjoy high quality HD video on their tablets, laptops, and smartphones, in their homes or outdoors, without the annoying pauses and quality reduction often experienced when multiple devices are sharing the same Wi-Fi connection at the same time. The spectrum will also allow Comcast and others to deploy more channels to alleviate congestion in high capacity areas, such as parks, stadiums, and apartment buildings which should dramatically improve consumers’ Wi-Fi experience – even in the densest urban environments.
I want to commend the FCC’s Chairman, Commissioners, and team of engineers for their swift action. Today's unanimous decision demonstrates the urgent need to bring more Wi-Fi spectrum to market, as well as the widespread support for making sure the U.S. continues to have best-in-class broadband connections. It also shows, as Commissioner Rosenworcel recently declared, that it is time to move on from the tired old arguments that "pit licensed versus unlicensed," and that "we need to choose efficiency over inefficiency, and speed over congestion."
But there is more work to be done, and today's action is just a down payment on the full potential of the 5 GHz band. Every day, Comcast customers connect millions of Wi-Fi enabled devices to our network using one of our Xfinity gateways in their homes, one of our nearly 1 million Xfinity WiFi hotspots, or a Wi-Fi router they purchased on their own. They expect the best broadband experience possible, so Comcast and our industry peers and organizations like WifiForward are committed to continuing our work with Congress and the FCC to find a way to make Wi-Fi work better – not just for Xfinity customers, but for everyone.
There is ample reason to be optimistic about the future of Wi-Fi. As Commissioner Pai has said, "the 5 GHz band is ‘tailor made’ for the next generation of Wi-Fi." The FCC has already proposed to open more Wi-Fi spectrum in a portion of the band that may be shared with short-range vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems currently under development, and President Obama’s 2014 economic report to Congress highlights the importance of this additional spectrum.
Today’s order provides a good roadmap for how innovators and incumbents can work together with the FCC to find solutions. It is based on a compromise—a technical solution worked out between engineers that correctly balances the critical need for additional Wi-Fi spectrum with the obligation to protect incumbents from harmful interference. We are confident that the FCC can also strike the right balance between secondary Wi-Fi operations and future vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems in a way that will allow both Wi-Fi and transportation safety applications to flourish in the band.