Back in February, a new lobbying group called WifiForward has been formed, consisting in such companies as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, BestBuy, Google, Microsoft and others with the purpose of reducing Wi-Fi congestion and improving its performance. This will be possible especially after unlicensed frequencies will be opened by the Federal Communications Commission, thus increasing the available spectrum. And finally, the FCC announced that it was freeing up more airwaves for Wi-Fi usage in the U.S, and here’s WifiForward’s response:

wifi spectrum increase

Today, the FCC voted unanimously to unleash more unlicensed spectrum will support all the things we already use and further drive investment and experimentation—a 50% increase in spectrum available for Wi-Fi, to be exact. Consumer devices are already equipped to operate in the band, so they can easily be adapted to quickly take advantage of new 5 GHz channels. And a new Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, has just been approved for the 5 GHz band. 802.11ac’s wide channels will allow for a better consumer experience.

As we can see, this isn’t an incremental improvement, but quite a big jump, as we’re talking about a 50% increase in spectrum available for Wi-Fi. WifiForward also notes that consumer devices will be “easily” adapted to make use of the new 5GHz channels. Also, the 802.11ac standard will be able to take advantage of the new bandwidth. For those who don’t know, 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi comes with speeds up to three times as fast as the existing 802.11n wireless networks.

The expansion of new Wi-Fi technology will have direct effects on the consumers as it will offer faster speeds of one gigabit per second or even more, will increase the overall capacity, and will reduce congestion at Wi-Fi hot spots. Thus, homes and other congested spaces like convention centers, parks, airport, coffee shops and malls will benefit from this. But security hasn’t been overlooked, either, as FCC now requires more strict technical rules to improve protection of WiFi devices against illegal modification.

Wi-Fi  and smartphone users who “offload,” or switch to Wi-Fi airwaves when their mobile networks are congested will be the first ones to notice the improvements. Cisco, a reputed builder of Wi-Fi equipment said the FCC’s action “eliminated the ‘speed bump’” which hindered the capabilities of Wi-Fi airwaves. The same company also predicts that by 2017, Wi-Fi devices will power a majority of all Internet traffic, so we need to get ready for this.

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What I’m most concerned about is security, as we keep hearing how easy is for hackers to access sensible information via public WiFi networks. So I hope something will be done in this direction, as well.
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