• United States

WRC helps coordinate global use of 5-GHz spectrum

Jul 21, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* Spectrum freed for 802.11a and 802.11h WLANs

The International Telecommunications Union’s World Radiocommunication Conference, which convened through most of June and early July in Geneva, Switzerland, made significant progress on coordinating global rules for running 54M-bit/sec 802.11a wireless LANs in the 5-GHz frequency range. The group’s decisions will also increase the bandwidth and number of non-overlapping channels available for WLAN use, which should boost overall WLAN scalability and performance.

The WRC’s delegates – including industry vendors and worldwide governments – agreed to allocate 455 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 5-GHz band for global WLAN use. Once the agreement achieves final plenary approval, 100 MHz (5.150-5.250 GHz) will be allocated for indoor WLAN use, and an additional 355 MHz will be allocated for mixed indoor/outdoor use (5.250-5.350 GHz and 5.470-5.725 GHz).

For customers, this means that designing WLANs that avoid interference will be easier because at least 19 non-overlapping 5-GHz channels have been freed up for global WLAN use. In addition, eventually, products designed for use in North America and Canada (under FCC regulations) will also work in other parts of the world. Until the WRC’s recent decisions, 5-GHz spectrum allocation across countries has been diverse, which makes consistency of product design and usage difficult at best.

 The FCC has reportedly already begun to enact the agreement, which will result in 24 non-interfering 5-GHz channels in the U.S. In addition, most member nations of the European Community have reportedly opened 19 non-overlapping, 5-GHz channels for 802.11h use (802.11a with some extensions for avoiding military radar, required in Europe).

The WRC decisions come on the heels of a February accord among U.S. government agencies and telecom organizations to allocate 255 MHz of additional spectrum in the U.S. for WLANs, albeit under coexistence rules that protect existing government users of the 5-GHz bands.