6 GHZ FOR

LICENCE-EXEMPT ACCESS

This website provides resources that support the case for opening the full 6 GHz band for licence-exempt use while protecting incumbent fixed satellite and fixed services and allowing them to continue and even extend their operation without restriction.

Q&A

 

HOW DO POLICYMAKERS ACHIEVE THE BEST OUTCOME IN THE 6 GHz BAND?

1: To what extent are Wi-Fi and IMT complementary, necessitating that spectrum policy should support both?

IMT (4G, 5G) and Wi-Fi are complementary technologies that work together to meet citizens’ and businesses’ connectivity needs. Regulators should ensure each of these technologies has access to sufficient and appropriate spectrum. While IMT is designed to meet the connectivity needs of people moving around, Wi-Fi is designed to meet the connectivity needs of people within a single locality. The vast majority of internet traffic is generated and consumed by users that are located inside homes, offices and other buildings, and using Wi-Fi.

About 90% of internet traffic is carried by fixed lines in developed markets (see graph)[1] and the vast majority of this traffic is relayed to end-users via Wi-Fi[2].

 

As a result, the absolute volume of traffic handled by Wi-Fi is far greater than that handled by cellular technologies.

In developed markets, people tend to use fixed networks / Wi-Fi for productivity-related tasks, such as video conferences and exchanging large files, in the workplace and for watching television and movies or playing games on-demand in the home. Cellular networks, by contrast, are typically used by people on the move to check social media, watch short videos or exchange messages [3].

Despite the enormous growth in Wi-Fi traffic over the past two decades, no new mid-band spectrum was made available on a licence-exempt basis between 2003 and 2020. As a result, congestion has been increasing, impacting the end-user experience.

Many governments, including those of Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the U.S., have recognised the urgent need for licence-exempt access to the entire 6 GHz band (5925-7125 MHz), while others have taken the initial step of making part of the 6 GHz band available on a licence-exempt basis. Without sufficient spectrum for Wi-Fi, users will not be able to fully leverage the performance of gigabit fixed access networks, in particular fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), and advanced internet apps.

With access to the full 6 GHz band, Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 can support a variety of demanding use cases, such as UHD video streaming, augmented/virtual/extended reality (AR/VR/XR) applications, health monitoring, wearables and seamless roaming. Moreover, Wi-Fi is the only cost-effective option to distribute gigabit connectivity within schools and hospitals for eEducation and eHealth services. In some cases, 5G and Wi-Fi will work together to deliver an AR/VR/XR service, with the former providing the internet connectivity to a smartphone and the latter connecting the handset to the user’s headset. The two technologies can also work together to support other industrial and enterprise applications, such as factory robots and sensors, healthcare monitors, and wireless medical equipment.

If Wi-Fi were not available, IMT/5G networks would be more costly, as mobile operators would need to deploy many more small cells in dense urban areas to offer gigabit throughput and provide adequate quality of service, and this would be to mobile users only. To penetrate building walls, 5G services need to consume high levels of power. As a result, connecting an indoor device to an outdoor base station will use a disproportionate amount of energy, while also resulting in shorter recharge cycles, increased battery wear, and additional electronic waste.

Providing 5G gigabit connectivity indoors would require the deployment of a completely new small cell infrastructure, parallel to the existing Wi-Fi one which would only provide marginal benefits and will be prohibitive from both a commercial and an environmental point of view.

 

[1] Based on the reports published by the national authorities.

[2] Approximately, 92% of fixed broadband traffic in Europe is relayed via Wi-Fi, according to the ASSIA “State of Wi-Fi” report.

[3] Source: Data gathered by Sandvine from about 160 fixed and mobile service providers worldwide in 1H2021

2: What is the evidence that Wi-Fi requires access to the full 1200 MHz?

Since the WRC-03 (2003) decision to enable access to new spectrum in the 5 GHz range, there have been revolutionary changes in Wi-Fi technology, use cases, and demand. Wi-Fi is now an absolutely critical link in the broadband connectivity chain – it has become essential to enable businesses and people to get online in urban, suburban and rural areas.

At the same time, the devices running on Wi-Fi networks have become increasingly powerful with each generation making greater demands on Wi-Fi network capacity from video resolution, processing power, camera capabilities and more.

With a technical architecture that is device-centric and not centrally managed, Wi-Fi has become ubiquitous, enabling it to benefit from enormous global economies of scale. More than 21.1 billion Wi-Fi devices are in use today, with 4.1 billion new devices shipped every year, according to research firm IDC[1].

There is a need to make the full 1200 MHz in the 5925-7125 MHz (6 GHz) band available on a licence-exempt basis to support the ever-increasing demand and to support the universal fixed gigabit network coverage required by the EU’s Gigabit Infrastructure Act and the Digital Decade Policy Programme 2030[2]. In Europe, there are currently only five 160 MHz channels available for licence-exempt usage, meaning Wi-Fi can only support gigabit coverage to approximately 50-60% of residential building area, according to a study[3] by Plum Consulting. To ensure whole-building coverage, a minimum of ten channels is necessary. Therefore, Wi-Fi access to the 6425-7125 MHz is imperative to support current and future generations of Wi-Fi in Europe.

Opening only 480/500 MHz of the 6 GHz band would mean that Wi-Fi networks in dense deployments would have to continue employing small channel bandwidths, as only one 320 MHz channel or three 160 MHz channels would be available. With access to the full 1200 MHz, a larger number of these wide channels could be accommodated (see graphic), significantly improving the performance available to each user.

Wider channel bandwidths increase spectrum efficiency and deliver high-bandwidth applications and services while maintaining the ability to share spectrum with incumbents and other licence-exempt systems. A shortage of wider channels would have a detrimental impact on real-time video services and high-bandwidth immersive services, such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and extended reality (AR/VR/XR) services.

Enterprise use cases (in manufacturing, education, healthcare and other sectors) requiring different data rates, latencies, and quality of service within one deployment depend on the large number of channels and the diversity of channel widths (20/40/80/160 MHz) that become available with 1200 MHz of spectrum.

Wi-Fi 7 relies on access to 320 MHz channels to further improve latency, throughput, reliability and quality of service relative to Wi-Fi 6E.

 

[1] Source: https://www.wi-fi.org/beacon/the-beacon/wi-fi-by-the-numbers-technology-momentum-in-2023

[2] See Gigabit Infrastructure Act; see Europe’s Digital Decade Policy Programme

[3] Plum report, “Wi-Fi Spectrum Requirements”

3: What are the socio-economic benefits of making the 6 GHz band licence-exempt?

Licence-exempt usage throughout the full 6 GHz band will yield many socio-economic benefits, such as helping to address the digital divide, improving rural connectivity, accelerating innovation, and delivering greater quality of service to users.

With Wi-Fi embedded in a wide array of devices, from laptops to tablets and smartphones, consumers can choose the right capabilities and price for them. Businesses also make extensive use of Wi-Fi in a variety of applications and use cases, be it for in-office communication, in the hospitality sector, in healthcare and education, in large public venues, and in industry where Wi-Fi is used to provide remote monitoring and control of machinery and appliances within factories, warehouses and other facilities.

Licence-exempt spectrum promotes innovation and competition by lowering barriers to entry, helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular.

If regulators allow for technical innovation, individuals and companies can choose the technology that best suits them. As users do not need to pay licence fees to use the spectrum, Wi-Fi is one of the most cost-effective ways to provide connectivity.

In rural areas lacking wireline, fibre or cellular infrastructure, Wi-Fi can deliver local broadband connectivity using fixed wireless or satellite broadband links to provide backhaul.

4: When will 6 GHz Wi-Fi equipment be available?

A wide range of 6 GHz Wi-Fi equipment, compatible with the Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 7 standards, is now available. There are more than 2,000 different client devices and access points supporting Wi-Fi 6E, including more than 1,000 laptop models, 300 desktop PCs, scores of consumer and enterprise access points, and more than 90 smartphones, as well as 69 smart televisions, according to Intel[1]. As of March 2024, there were already 63 smartphone models and 62 access points that support Wi-Fi 7[2].

As the market grows, economies of scale are kicking in, ensuring that Wi-Fi 6E will be highly affordable. IDC estimates more than 807 million Wi-Fi 6E/Wi-Fi 7 devices will be shipped worldwide in 2024. As with previous generations of Wi-Fi, these new technologies are set to be included in almost every phone, tablet and laptop, as well as other appliances, such as printers, televisions, cameras and wearables. Grand View Research has forecast that the Wi-Fi 6/7 chipset market will grow rapidly. It projects that more than 7 billion Wi-Fi 6E chipsets and more than 3 billion Wi-Fi 7 chipsets will be shipped in 2030 globally[3].

In short, the Wi-Fi 6E/7 ecosystem is expanding fast. That buoyancy is underpinned by the Wi-Fi Alliance certification program, which ensures devices comply with the IEEE 802.11ax standard no matter where they are deployed. In simple terms, this certification ensures they will work and work well.

 

[1] Disclaimer: This data is compiled by Intel from vendor websites, press releases, and third-party device reviews. Intel provides this assessment for informational purposes only, does not guarantee its accuracy, and it is subject to change without notice.

[2] According to a LinkedIn post by Gabriel Desjardins, Director, Wireless Connectivity Division at Broadcom.

[3] Grand View Research, Market Analysis Report

5: Does licensed 5G require more mid-band spectrum? Why the 6 GHz band? What are the alternatives?

Successive WRCs have identified specific frequency bands for the deployment of IMT systems and this spectrum constitutes a good mix of ‘coverage’ bands (below 5 GHz) and capacity bands (mmWave spectrum above 24 GHz).

In all three ITU Regions, IMT has access to at least 1368 MHz of prime spectrum below 5 GHz – far more than is available for Wi-Fi.

Much of this IMT spectrum isn’t being used today. For example, the EU’s 5G Observatory[1] shows that only 71% of the so-called pioneer bands (700 MHz, 3.6 GHz and 26 GHz) have been assigned on average in the EU.

In the 3.6 GHz band, the number of 5G base stations is less than 15% of the number of corresponding 4G base stations, according to the EU Observatory.

As the 3.6 GHz band isn’t being heavily used, it won’t be congested anytime soon. Even when the utilisation of 3.6 GHz increases, adjacent mid-bands could provide ample additional capacity for 5G to cover the use cases that need a licensed technology.

More broadly, the growth of mobile data traffic is slowing worldwide, calling into question the notion that cellular networks need to be allocated yet more spectrum.

New reports by the OECD[2], Analysys Mason[3], and Ericsson[4] all show a slowdown in mobile traffic growth.

If the relatively high traffic levels generated by fixed wireless access (FWA) networks are stripped out of the figures, the growth rate is significantly lower. This FWA traffic is generally distributed inside buildings using Wi-Fi.

In absolute terms, the ongoing increase in fixed traffic is much greater than the increase in mobile traffic. Whereas mobile data consumption per user in Europe is set to grow from approximately 15 GB/month in 2022 to 75 GB/month by 2030, fixed data consumption per household is set to grow from 225 GB/month in 2022 to 900 GB/month by 2030, according to a report by Arthur D Little (see graph)[5]. As the average EU household has 2.3 people, that suggests the absolute growth in fixed data traffic will be almost 5x that of mobile data traffic in Europe between 2022 and 2030.

Although the U.S. has made the entire 6 GHz band licence-exempt, the mobile network operators there have plenty of spectrum to meet demand for 5G. In summary, there is no need to also consider the 6 GHz band for IMT, particularly as the less favourable propagation characteristics make it less suitable for wide area coverage.

 

[1] Source: 5G Observatory

[2] Source: OECD broadband statistics

[3] Source: Analysys Mason report

[4] Source: Ericsson Mobility Report

[5] Source: ADL Report

6: If additional mid-band spectrum is not made available for IMT, will the cost of public mobile network deployments increase, or will we see a degradation in network quality?

The simple answer is no. The cost of deploying public mobile networks is related to several factors, including the amount that operators need to pay for the spectrum, the cost of the infrastructure they are deploying and the density of their networks.

If mobile operators pay a licence fee for 6 GHz spectrum, that will increase their costs. The cost of developing and deploying 3GPP equipment that can support the 6 GHz band will also have a negative impact on operators’ business cases, potentially pushing up prices for end-users.

The most efficient way to deliver high-speed connectivity indoors will be to use Wi-Fi, which is optimised for this use case. If Wi-Fi has access to sufficient spectrum to meet this demand, operators will not need to spend large sums trying to improve indoor 5G coverage.

For mobile operators, opening up more spectrum for Wi-Fi provides a highly cost-effective means to reduce the congestion on their networks (as explained by analyst Monica Paolini[1]). That will improve their networks’ performance, which in turns increases the quality of experience and the value that customers will associate with mobile networks.

[1] Source: Is unlicensed 6 GHz good for mobile operators?

7: What are the benefits or the opportunity costs of Wi-Fi and 5G in the 6 GHz band?

Reserving a portion of the 6 GHz band for a later decision on whether to allow IMT (or not) would forego the immediate economic gains that would have accrued from opening the full 6 GHz band to licence-exempt operations.

In an August 2020 report[1], Coleago Consulting estimated 5G will not be deployed in the 6 GHz band for at least a decade. During that time, the global economy could forego trillions of euros of economic value that could be generated by Wi-Fi.

UK regulator Ofcom has forecast that Wi-Fi demand in residential environments could grow between six and ten times between 2020 and 2030, driven by increased video quality and the adoption of virtual reality devices. In public venues, such as arenas or concert halls, demand could increase up to 15 times over the same period[2].

Many regulators believe that withholding the upper 700 MHz of the 6 GHz band for future consideration for IMT is inadvisable. ISED in Canada said such a move would “hinder access to affordable broadband services for Canadians in rural and urban areas and would negatively impact the opportunities for innovation.” In Saudi Arabia, the CITC has said that the 3 GHz band “will be sufficient to cover the mid-band spectrum needs of IMT for the foreseeable future. The existing mid-bands for exclusive IMT use have robust ecosystems already as well as superior propagation characteristics.”

In Hong Kong, the mobile operators have advised the regulator that its plans to auction parts of the upper 6 GHz band in the first quarter of 2025 for IMT usage are premature due to the lack of an ecosystem and available equipment in this band.

 

[1] See section 7.3 of the report: The 6 GHz Opportunity for IMT – “Recognising the 10+ year timeframe anticipated for 5G at 6 GHz”.

[2] See UK Ofcom Improving Spectrum Access for Wi-Fi, July 2020, section 3.24

8: What does the outcome of WRC-23 mean for the upper 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz)?

WRC-23 confirmed that administrations have the flexibility to use the upper 6 GHz band as they see fit. While 6425-7125 MHz in Region 1 and 7025-7125 MHz in Region 3 were identified for IMT, the IMT identification recognises that the frequency bands are also used for WAS/RLANs. Moreover, the identification does not preclude the use of these frequency bands by any application of the services to which they are allocated (including Wi-Fi) and does not establish priority in the Radio Regulations.

Regional organisations now need to complete their own studies. CEPT, for example, is exploring whether the spectrum could be shared by Wi-Fi and IMT.

9: Can IMT and Wi-Fi successfully share the upper 6 GHz band?

Any hybrid-sharing solution needs to support true sharing in which both Wi-Fi and IMT can reliably and predictably access the band. As it is both the most spectrally-efficient and energy-efficient technology, Wi-Fi should be given priority indoors where traffic levels are highest. Specifically designed to support mobility, IMT could be given priority outdoors, with very low-power (VLP) Wi-Fi being employed outside on an opportunistic basis.

As long as both technologies work within appropriate power levels, an indoor-outdoor split should avoid harmful interference. Hybrid-sharing studies should be conducted and concluded without delay, with a view to realising the value of this key spectrum as quickly as possible.

It will be important to guarantee meaningful indoor Wi-Fi access in the upper 6 GHz band everywhere, so enterprises and individuals can rely on the technology when they need it for important use cases, such as automation, video calls and extended reality applications. Certainty is key.

Furthermore, any hybrid-sharing scheme should not require significant changes to current Wi-Fi equipment or to Wi-Fi standards.

10: There are claims that 5G is more spectrally-efficient than Wi-Fi 6. Is that the case?

The theoretical peak spectral efficiencies of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G NR are essentially the same. In real world deployments, spectrum efficiency is chiefly determined by the network topology, rather than the underlying technology. In practice, most 5G networks, which are optimised for wide area coverage and have to balance several objectives, are unlikely to be as spectrally-efficient indoors as a Wi-Fi network optimised to support this use case.

More broadly, licensing spectrum excludes most users and therefore undoubtedly reduces overall usage of the spectrum in question. In that sense, licensing spectrum reduces efficiency.

Tellingly, licence-exempt services are hugely popular with consumers, partly because they enable the end-user to decide how to connect to broadband in their homes or public spaces. Mobile networks in Germany delivered 9.1 million GB per MHz of spectrum allocated in 2023[1]. By comparison, Wi-Fi, operating predominantly over 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz during 2022, delivered approximately 116.6 million GB[2] per MHz per year, i.e., Wi-Fi used the available spectrum 13 times more efficiently than mobile networks[3].

The ITU-R Radio Regulations (Section 0.3) states that spectrum: “must be used rationally, efficiently and economically”, reflecting the fact that there are several important metrics with regard to the efficient use of spectrum, such as economic, or environmental impact, as well as pro-competitive benefits.

 

[1] Derived from data from Bundesnetzagentur and using the methodology used for the DSA paper “How do Europeans connect to the internet?”

[2] This estimate assumes that 90% of the fixed-line traffic recorded by Bundesnetzagentur travels over Wi-Fi.

[3] In the calculation we included the lower 6 GHz band although not really used by Wi-Fi as Germany opened the band only in July 2021.

11: Will the benefits of 6 GHz Wi-Fi not be highly dependent on the availability of high-speed fixed broadband?

Both the availability and uptake of high-speed fixed broadband are growing quickly in most countries.

In Europe, the number of subscribers to FTTH/B (fibre-to-the-home or building) services is set to rise to 201 million by 2029, from 121 million in September 2023, according to the FTTH Council for Europe (see chart)[1]. At the same time, the number of homes passed will jump to 312 million in 2029 from 244 million in September 2023, as telcos lay more fibre in the ground.

As things stand today, the end-user experience of Wi-Fi is far more likely to be determined by the local radio conditions and interference from other users, than the backhaul capacity.

Spectrum congestion can also be a major issue in less densely populated residential areas where householders are increasingly using Wi-Fi to connect all kinds of devices from tablets and televisions to printers and music systems.

In short, there simply isn’t sufficient licence-exempt spectrum available to ensure users enjoy a good quality of service. Making the entire 6 GHz band available on a licence-exempt basis will alleviate this congestion.

Note that some Wi-Fi traffic will be entirely local in the sense that it will travel between two devices in the vicinity of each other – transmitting video images from a smartphone to a VR/AR headset, for example. For these use cases, there is no need for a high-speed fixed line.

Evolution of FTTH/B Subscribers Forecasts (millions)

[1] FTTH Market Forecasts 2023-2029

12: Don’t users get significantly better speeds and reliability, and lower latency on 5G than on Wi-Fi?

If they have access to sufficient spectrum, both Wi-Fi and 5G equipment can provide a very high quality of service, both in terms of data rate and latency. The actual throughput will depend on the spectrum available and the level of congestion.

The International School of Monaco is installing a Wi-Fi 7 network, supplied by Huawei, at its new 8,000 square metre campus, which is due to open in September 2024. The new network will deliver reliable “zero latency” connectivity across the whole school and will be future-proof for 10 years, according to the school’s IT director Frederic Mondou[1].

In crowded spaces, Wi-Fi is likely to provide a better end-user experience: whereas cellular technologies have been designed to deliver outdoor coverage and mobility, Wi-Fi has been designed to deliver high local capacity predominantly indoors.

While there may be some very specific applications that could benefit from a licensing regime, the large majority of industrial applications, such as factory robots and sensors, augmented reality (AR), healthcare monitors and wireless medical equipment, can be realised with licence-exempt technologies, and specifically Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7.

In order to use spectrum most efficiently, applications necessitating a licensed regime could instead utilise the 3.8-4.2 GHz band, which was made available for use by private and local networks and that is already supported by 5G.

Stringent QoS requirements that in the past might have justified the use of licensed technologies typically exist in enterprise environments where networks are carefully managed. Unlike previous generations of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6/6E and Wi-Fi 7 are based on OFDMA technology and are thereby able to achieve very high QoS levels, particularly in managed networks. There are various other QoS-enhancing mechanisms and features, particularly in Wi-Fi 7, such as multi-link operation that will improve throughput by aggregating links, enhance reliability by transmitting multiple copies of the same frame in separated links, decrease channel access delay by selecting the first available link in terms of latency, and enable isolation of time-sensitive traffic from other network traffic.

Although there may be some use cases where 5G is required to support outdoor mobility and coverage, such deployments would not benefit from being able to use the 6 GHz band, which supports relatively limited signal propagation.

 

[1] Source: https://e.huawei.com/en/topic/enterprise-network/wifi7

13: Will 6G require new spectrum?

The first question to be answered is “What will 6G be”? Will it be a network of networks and not tied to a particular technology, or will it be just another ‘G’ (IMT-2030)?

Reserving spectrum for what may be the IMT ‘flavour’ of the future would undermine the objective to use spectrum as efficiently as possible. Moreover, existing IMT spectrum could be employed by 6G using dynamic spectrum sharing techniques (which allows the use of both 4G and 5G on the same spectrum).

Furthermore, propagation in the upper 6 GHz band is inferior to that in the 3.6 GHz band. Mobile operators would always use the band with the most favourable propagation characteristics to deploy their new network. This is what happened in Europe where 4G was deployed in the 1800 MHz band rather than in the 2600 MHz band.

The focus for 6G spectrum should be around bands that can be harmonised globally. The US, Canada, and many other countries have a large and growing number of fixed links in the upper 6 GHz band for important services beyond operator backhaul. There is no place to move these links. Some countries, such as Japan, have important broadcasting services that do not have a readily available alternative frequency.

IMT services in the upper 6 GHz band would also suffer from severe restrictions, according to ITU studies. Co-existence with incumbent services requires a stringent limitation of base station density, deploying the base stations below rooftop and deploying only in urban and suburban areas. Even if EMEA administrations were to remove all fixed links from the upper 6 GHz band, a costly and damaging process, they would still need to protect satellite services.

Finally, making the upper 6 GHz a priority band for 6G would prevent harmonisation and reduce economies of scale, as well as weaken alignment on a low-cost ecosystem. That would impact both end-users and innovators.

In summary, selecting the upper 6 GHz band as a 6G priority band would significantly and negatively impact 6G’s innovation potential.

14: To what extent can IMT and Wi-Fi co-exist with incumbent services in the 6 GHz band?

In much of the Americas, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, Wi-Fi is successfully sharing the full 6 GHz band with incumbent services, such as satellite and fixed wireless links.

The European Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/1067 of 17 June 2021 established the regulatory conditions necessary for the operation of wireless services in the 5945-6425 MHz frequency band. The decision was taken following extensive technical studies which determined that low-power indoor and very low-power portable licence-exempt networks (e.g., Wi-Fi) can co-exist with incumbent satellite and fixed services.

Technical studies on the operation of 5G/IMT services in the upper 6 GHz band have shown that incumbents in the upper 6 GHz band will need similar levels of protection. Such requirements would allow licence-exempt networks (e.g., Wi-Fi) to operate in the band, but would make deployments of 5G/IMT networks commercially unviable.

The satellite industry is very concerned about potential interference from IMT services. The Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA) has said[1]: “A geostationary satellite can “see” around one third of the earth surface and hence would receive interference from potentially millions of mobile base stations and terminals. Experience in some other frequency bands used by satellite uplinks, such as the 2.5 GHz band, has shown that IMT systems can cause interference to satellites that effectively prevent all satellite operations.”

Together, satellites and Wi-Fi bring connectivity to people and communities that are underserved by cellular and fixed-line networks. If the 6 GHz band is licence-exempt, Wi-Fi networks will be able to harness the spectrum to enable people in underserved areas to share the broadband connectivity delivered by satellites.

 

[1] Source: GSOA statement

15: How sustainable are Wi-Fi and IMT technologies?

Digital technologies and connectivity are playing a pivotal role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as humans’ broader impact on the environment. Connectivity can be used to capture real-time information that can be used to make all kinds of processes more efficient and less energy-intensive.
For example, digital connectivity can reduce the need to travel, by enabling people to fulfil tasks and conduct meetings remotely, rather than driving or flying. As it can deliver high-speed and very responsive connectivity, Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 are well suited to delivering high-resolution video streams and VR/AR services that can help people interact effectively without being physically present in the same location. Most of these applications will be used indoors, where Wi-Fi is the technology of choice. In outdoor scenarios, Wi-Fi will be widely used to connect smartphones to VR/AR headsets.

In cases where travel is necessary, on-board Wi-Fi can help make public transport more appealing, thereby reducing congestion and emissions caused by private cars.

At the same time, Wi-Fi is becoming more efficient, thanks to new features, such as target wake time and the OFDMA radio interface, which reduce power consumption. Most Wi-Fi networks operate at much lower power levels than cellular systems, so they could be the most energy-efficient connectivity option in many scenarios.

Indeed, the French regulator ARCEP found that the combination of fibre and Wi-Fi is the most efficient solution in terms of energy consumption, performance, and flexibility. Employing Wi-Fi, rather than IMT, in the 6 GHz band will require less power, helping to make better use of scarce energy resources.

The ITU has forecast that the energy used by mobile networks around the globe will emit 73.0 Mt CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2025, compared with 35.2 Mt CO2e for fixed networks. Considering the share of mobile data and fixed broadband lines in Europe, around 4.8 Mt CO2e will be emitted from fixed networks and 10 Mt CO2e from mobile networks in the EU. That suggests fixed networks produce less than half the CO2e of mobile networks, even though they transport more than ten times the amount of data.

Employing the 6 GHz band to enable outdoor base stations to deliver indoor connectivity would consume much more energy than using low-power Wi-Fi 6E, which is designed to provide connectivity indoors.

GLOBAL PROGRESS TOWARDS
LICENCE-EXEMPT ACCESS TO THE 6 GHZ BAND

In many countries, the entire band (5925-7125 MHz) is now available.

Data correct as of July 2024

Updates map july 2024

The case for licence-exempt 6 GHz

Sustainability Benefits of 6 GHz Spectrum Policy by WIK Consult

Report

Wi-Fi spectrum needs study

English

INFOGRAPHIC

Why Wi-Fi needs all 1200 MHz

English

French

Arabic

report

Why the full 1200 MHz? (DSA)

English

Sustainability Benefits of 6 GHz Spectrum Policy by WIK Consult

REPORT

Sustainability benefits of 6 GHz Wi-Fi

Sustainability Benefits of 6 GHz Spectrum Policy by WIK Consult

Report

The economic value of the 6 GHz

band in Brazil.

INFOGRAPHIC

The rapid rollout of Wi-Fi 6E

DSA WHITE PAPER

How do Europeans connect

to the internet?

WI-FI ALLIANCE STUDY

Global economic value of Wi-Fi®

USE CASES

SUMMARY

University of Michigan boosts connectivity by deploying Wi-Fi 6E

SUMMARY

Wi-Fi Certified 7: Next level Wi-Fi performance

SUMMARY

Wi-Fi delivers immersive VR gaming

SUMMARY

Wi-Fi drives immersive XR experiences

TECHNICAL BRIEFINGS

In-depth analysis of specific technical issues

ARUBA

With Wi-Fi 6E, is it time to consider a layered network approach?

ARUBA

Technical guide to Wi-Fi 6E and the    6 GHz band

policy impact partners

Analysis of Wi-Fi 6E and 5G spectrum efficiency at 6 GHz

senzafill

Sharing access to the upper 6 GHz band

VIDEOS & PODCASTS

WI-FI ALLIANCE

Celebrating 25 Years of Wi-Fi

WI-FI ALLIANCE

A Day Without Wi-Fi

WI-FI ALLIANCE

Wi-Fi Certified 7

WI-FI ALLIANCE

Wi-Fi 6E: Expanding Wi-Fi into 6 GHz Spectrum 

INTEL TECHNOLOGY

Wi-Fi 6E Congestion Video Call

INTEL TECHNOLOGY

Wi-Fi 6E Congestion Gaming Demo Video