The FCC is poised to consider expanding uses for a swath of airwaves to accommodate surging Wi-Fi demand. The agency will vote at its Oct. 23 monthly meeting on proposed rules to open up spectrum in the 6 gigahertz spectrum band to millions of Wi-Fi-connected devices, including smartphones, video game consoles and baby monitors. As much as 1 GHz of spectrum could be opened up for unlicensed use, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog post previewing the commission’s meeting agenda.
The commission’s proposal to reserve up to two UHF channels for unlicensed devices in the shrunken, post-auction TV band could hinder the adoption of ATSC 3.0 and hurt low-power TV stations’ chances of survival, according to NAB and other broadcasters. “In many ways, it’s one of the most insidious [anti-broadcaster] initiatives the FCC has put on the table,” says Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Mark Aitken.