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Wi-Fi to gets its biggest upgrade in 20 years

The US Federal Communications Commission is opening up radio spectrum in the 6GHz frequency band, ushering a new era of fast, low-latency internet connections.

The decision, voted on unanimously by the FCC, will add 1,200 Megahertz of Wi-Fi for unlicensed use and increase the amount of Wi-Fi spectrum by nearly fivefold. The release of the spectrum offers new radio waves for routers, and is likely to result in better Wi-Fi service speeds, hyper-low latency and higher network capacity.

For broadband customers, there will be more airwaves that home routers can make use of to broadcast Wi-Fi signals, helping to reduce network congestion.   Tech giant Intel called it the ‘most significant contribution to Wi-Fi in nearly 20 years’, while Apple said ‘it sets the course for the next generation of Wi-Fi networks’.   Smartphone and hardware manufacturers in the US will be focusing their efforts on marketing devices that accommodate this new spectrum – branded Wi-Fi 6E.

The European Commission is expected to follow suit with a similar decision later this year to free up 6GHz in Europe, while UK telecoms regulator Ofcom is in ‘advanced stages’ of consultation over the release of 6GHz in Britain.  Devices that use the 6GHz band – Wi-Fi 6E devices – will begin to be available in the second half of this year or early 2021.