In what is becoming a tradition at CES, for the past three years the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) has been sounding the alarm about the need to increase Wi-Fi speed in airports and major hubs around the country. In the three years, smart mobile devices have seen a tremendous increase and their insatiable appetite for bandwidth has yet to be quenched. In his address the chairman said, "We're threatened by a looming spectrum crunch; this is the dark cloud around the silver lining."
According to the chairman, the FCC will start steps to initiate freeing up the Wi-Fi spectrum in February. This plan will free up airwaves between broadcast channels in the five gigahertz band for a total of 195 megahertz. If all goes to plan, it will increase the Wi-Fi networks by 35 percent. The increase of this much unlicensed airwaves would be the largest of its kind since 2003 when the FCC opened 255 MHz in the 5.470-5725 GHz for RLAN and U-NII. This type of spectrum is not the type of spectrum that is auctioned to commercial carriers.
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“As this spectrum comes on line, we expect it to relieve congested WiFi (News - Alert) networks at major hubs like convention centers and airports. It will also help in homes as tablets and smartphones proliferate and video use rises.” Genachowski said.
Wi-Fi is increasingly becoming the preferred choice as the gateway to Internet access for people who are using smart mobile devices. Whether it is tablets, smartphones or other mobile computing devices, they rely on Wi-Fi to avoid the congestion and slow speed often associated in these locations.
It seems the announcements are intentionally being made at one of the most celebrated consumer electronics venues in the world to let everyone know about the urgency of the situation, but it has been falling on deaf ears thus far. The government has to wake up and increase the spectrum –three years ago – and stop harnessing the tools that are needed to keep us competitive in a world that is taking no prisoners when it comes to technology.
The federal government has a very ambitious plan to increase the broadband capability of the United States, but the progress is not moving at the same rate as other countries around the world. According to the FCC, the prime spectrum required by 2020 is going to be 500 MHz, but only 25 MHz has been added for mobile broadband by the end of 2011.
Meanwhile companies are exchanging some of their spectrums amongst themselves to try to come up with solutions.
Similar to how roads, dams and bridges paved the way for economic prosperity during the Depression, new infrastructures will keep us from falling far behind competitors that are marching full steam ahead everywhere else.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman