FCC votes to free up 5.9GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi

The Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to free up more spectrum for Wi-Fi. In a bipartisan effort, the five commissioners voted unanimously to allocate spectrum for Wi-Fi usage in what’s known as the 5.9GHz band of spectrum.

The spectrum in this band will be used for unlicensed indoor use to help improve speeds and reduce congestion on 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. For more than two decades the spectrum has been set aside for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications using a technology known as Dedicated Short-Range Communications, or DSRC.

As part of the order, the FCC will allocate the lower 45MHz of the spectrum for Wi-Fi. There will also be a 30MHz sliver of spectrum for another vehicle communication technology called C-V2X, which is supported by chipmaker Qualcomm and some automobile makers.

Although all FCC commissioners were in agreement in reallocating the spectrum for unlicensed broadband use, the vote has not been without controversy. The US Department of Transportation has opposed the reallocation of spectrum.