The FCC has given the green light to a request made almost four years ago, allowing for the opening of a portion of the 6GHz spectrum to enable ultrafast WiFi tethering. While the proposal still needs to navigate the remaining regulatory steps at the FCC, it appears that these are mere formalities, considering the unanimous vote in favour. We expect this decision to assist manufacturers in creating lightweight AR and VR glasses that consumers will find comfortable to wear.
The Federal Communications Commission has had a busy week. On Tuesday, it sent out enforcement notices to telecom companies that had neglected to submit robocall mitigation plans to the agency. Then, on Thursday, the FCC voted to restore Title II regulations on Internet Service Providers for the second time in less than a decade.
Additionally, on Thursday, the FCC granted requests from several companies to utilize the 6GHz spectrum for wireless devices, encompassing applications like AR and VR equipment and in-car connectivity. The proposal for these new rules, put forth by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on September 27, received unanimous approval yesterday.
This approval permits VLP devices to access approximately 850MHz of the 6GHz spectrum. The FCC extended and made this band available for WiFi routers and client devices such as cell phones and laptops in April 2020. The decision now allows for restricted high-powered use, as long as it confines within geofenced areas.
As with all FCC regulations, the proposal will undergo a period of public comment. Subsequently, it will be subjected to peer review, extensive testing, and potential revisions before facing another round of voting. The timeline for this process can vary, making it uncertain when the rules will ultimately be implemented. It’s worth noting that reaching this stage has already taken several years.
In 2019, several companies, such as Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, submitted requests to the FCC for a portion of the ultra-fast spectrum. These prominent companies are either presently using or planning to use devices that stand to gain from this long-awaited permission.
Apple recently introduced the Vision Pro. As of January 2022, reports indicated that Google was actively working on a VR headset called Project Iris, although there were rumours circulating about its potential hold. In contrast, Meta, who acquired Oculus in 2014, actively engaged in the industry and recently introduced the Quest 3 headset just ten days ago. Lastly, Microsoft has been developing its Hololens since 2015 but has not yet released a consumer version. Nevertheless, the software development kit, enterprise, and industrial versions could all benefit from a high-speed wireless WiFi connection.
Most importantly, these new regulations could potentially aid these and other companies in the long-awaited development of high-quality AR glasses. For years, they’ve pledged to provide us with lightweight and fashionable AR lenses, but we’ve yet to witness a truly successful product in this space.
Meta’s Vice President for North American Policy, Kevin Martin, expressed satisfaction that the FCC has at last taken action and progressed with the company’s request.
We applaud the FCC’s decision, which permits companies like ours to leverage new wireless technologies in the creation of the next phase of computing, This stands as a noteworthy example of a government regulator collaborating with industry from the outset to lay the foundation for the future.Kevin Martin – Meta’s Vice President for North American Policy