Originally published: November 15, 2013
Last updated: November 25, 2013 - 2:43pm
The latest standard in Wi-Fi technology -- 802.11ac (also known as gigabit Wi-Fi) -- only works on the 5 GHz band, and that frequency is already being used by some influential organizations, some inside the government itself.
This was the topic of conversation in the recent US House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing: Can the federal government open up access to the 5 GHz band of wireless spectrum for expanded Wi-Fi usage without pissing off anyone important? Today, the 5 GHz spectrum is used by critical government communication systems, as well as car companies like Toyota and GM for Internet-connected cars. Meanwhile, companies like Comcast and Cisco--both of whom sent executives to testify before Congress -- are clamoring for access to that same slice of the wireless pie. "Gigabit Wi-Fi is here, it's real and our customers are demanding it," Cisco CTO Bob Friday told lawmakers. "But it requires wide bands of contiguous spectrum to handle the massive increase in demand driven by video. Technological improvements aren't enough. Policymakers also have a major role to play and should provide more spectrum for Wi-Fi."