Study: FCC Spectrum Moves Would Add $183B to Economy

The FCC's plans to open up the 6 GHz and 5.9 GHz bands for unlicensed WiFi would add at least $183.44 billion to the U.S. economy over the next five years. 

Source: WiFi Forward

Source: WiFi Forward

That is according to a new study released and funded by WiFi Forward, whose members include cable broadband providers and computer and tech companies.  

Both FCC spectrum efforts are part of the larger push for more spectrum for 5G wireless broadband.

Related: Pai Proposes Dual-Use 5.9 GHz Band

An economic boost is obviously more important than ever given the pandemic-driven shutdown and its economic aftermath. 

The study, from Dr. Paul Katz, director of business strategy research at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information and president of Telecom Advisory Services, finds that sharing those bands between licensed and unlicensed users would add $106 billion to the GDP by increasing broadband speeds and thus accelerating the Internet of Things and the augmented reality/virtual (AR/VR) reality market.  

Finally it predicts another $8 billion in "consumer surplus" thanks to broadband speed increases.

 Related: Ford Backs Pai's V2V Compromise

Another $69 billion would come in savings on enterprise wireless traffic and sales of WiFi and AR/VR equipment. 

The FCC is proposing freeing up the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed use, reserving the rest for vehicle-to-vehicle communications services that has previously had the whole 75 MHz. It is also considering how to free up spectrum in the 6 GHz band to share with utility companies and broadcasters and other incumbent users. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.