Why Location is Now a Thing in Wi-Fi: Operational Considerations for Standard Power 6 GHz Wi-Fi (2023)

By Scott Voegele, CommScope

The 6 GHz band has historically been licensed for point-to-point microwave communications as well as limited radio astronomy sites. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or “the Commission”) enabled unlicensed use of the band allowing transmissions by Low Power Indoor-only (LPI) devices and indoor/outdoor Standard Power (SP) devices. Standard Power devices were given access to two portions of the band – 500 MHz in the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure band Five (U-NII-5) and 350 MHz in the U-NII-7 band. Since licensed devices continue to operate in the band, the FCC requires that SP devices must operate under the control of an Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) system to minimize interference with incumbents. Given the relentless proliferation of Wi-Fi enabled devices as well as the steadily increasing demands on both Wi-Fi bandwidth and quality of service, access to this new spectrum is not only welcome but has the potential to be game changing. However, unlocking this new Wi-Fi resource places new requirements on providers of Wi-Fi services. This document provides details regarding the process of utilizing an AFC such that the benefits of Standard Power operations can be unlocked for US consumers. In addition, it provides guidance for how best to handle new requirements placed on the communications service provider. In particular, this paper addresses how to accurately determine the geolocation of installed SP devices and efficiently deliver this information to an AFC.

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