At its meeting on April 23, the FCC voted unanimously to allocate 1.2 GHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band (i.e., between 5.925 and 7.125 GHz) for unlicensed use.

“These new rules will usher in Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, and play a major role in the growth of the Internet of Things,” the FCC said in a release.

The new spectrum, which is adjacent to the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band, is already licensed for point-to-point microwave links, broadcast relays and earth-to-satellite links. To prevent interference with incumbents, the FCC’s new rules permit two types of unlicensed operation:

Indoors, the full 1.2 GHz spectrum can be used. Access points are limited to 24 dBm conducted power or 30 dBm EIRP. Client devices are limited to 18 dBm conducted power or 24 dBm EIRP.

Outdoors, users have access to 850 MHz of the new spectrum, specifically the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands; which bands unlicensed users can use will be controlled by an automated frequency coordination (AFC) system, advising which frequencies are available in a specific area. Where permitted, access points are limited to 30 dBm conducted power and 36 dBm EIRP. Client devices have the same constraints as for indoor use: 18 dBm conducted and 24 dBm EIRP.

The FCC has a few open questions about use of the new spectrum and requested additional input on two possible modifications: 1) increasing the power levels of the indoor access points and 2) allowing very low power devices to use the full 6 GHz band for high data rate applications, such as augmented reality and virtual reality.

Download and read the approved Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here.