Last week’s decision by Mexico’s regulator – the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) – to open only the lower portion of the 6GHz band for license-exempt applications such as Wi-Fi has been met with some disappointment – notably from the collaboration forum known as the Wi-Fi Alliance. But is this really bad news?
After all, IFT plans to classify a 500MHz block of spectrum in the 5925MHz-6425MHz range as free (that is, not licensed by the IFT) spectrum. With that in mind, it has now issued the technical operating conditions that allow coexistence with existing services in the country.
The IFT points out that this segment is a part of the 6GHz band in which the relatively new WiFi-6E standard operates and, eventually, WiFi-7, which will improve speed, capacity and latency. US, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Korea have all adopted the full band but global adoption has been mainly in the lower band.
However, groups like South Africa’s Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA) have asked for government to free up not 500MHz but 1.2GHz of radio frequency spectrum in the 6GHz band, claiming that doing so could drive a wave of economic growth. And the Wi-Fi Alliance insists: “The lack of sufficient spectrum access threatens the full realization of Wi-Fi performance and economic benefits.”
The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance which focuses on efficient utilization of spectrum, has also weighed in, saying: “License-exempt use of the entire 6GHz band for Wi-Fi will be critical to address current pressing bandwidth demands for end users, new applications and industries.”
There are other competing interests in other countries trying to get a piece of 6GHz spectrum – notably in India where cellular and satellite services are keen to get or retain access – but, whatever else happens, it doesn’t look like a globally harmonised approach to 6GHz is ever going to be a reality.