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FCC's O'Rielly: More WiFi Work to Be Done

Tuesday (June 20) is World Wi-Fi Day, which FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly noted with an op-ed in The Hill newspaper Monday.

"Tomorrow is World Wi-Fi Day! Yet, no parades will be held, no feasts prepared, and families will not gather together in its honor," O'Rielly wrote. "Perhaps a subdued celebratory moment is appropriate given that WiFi is generally taken for granted, even though it produces enormous benefits for internet users around the globe. More precisely, using unlicensed spectrum to offer WiFi has completely changed the reach and breadth of internet offerings, and for that, we should all be thankful."

WiFi has become cable operator ISPs' go-to mobile wireless play, with hundreds of thousands of hotspots extending their wired customers' service to train stations and coffee shops around the country.

WiFi is also behind ISPs' push to open up more spectrum in the 5-GHz band, something the FCC has been focused on as well.

O'Rielly acknowledged that effort, but said more needs to be done.

"This includes making more spectrum bands available for unlicensed use to allow super-wide WiFi channels and making a firm commitment to opening up the 5.9-GHz band for unlicensed use, assuming sharing with automotive safety systems is proven possible.

"We also need to explore whether, and to what degree, WiFi can play a factor in connecting those in the hardest to reach parts of the U.S. without Internet service," he added. "Maybe WiFi is a good technology to stretch existing networks beyond their edges to more rural portions of our nation."

O'Rielly is scheduled to provide opening remarks at a kick-off event at the Consumer Technology Association Innovation House Monday (June 19).