Brazil Becomes the Second Country to Release the Full 6 GHz Spectrum for Wi-Fi

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1Q 2021 | IN-6103

In February 2021, Brazil’s telco regulator Anatel unanimously voted to release the full 1.2 GHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi, making it the second-largest area to do so after the United States. The entire band will be available for low power indoor Wi-Fi use, as well as very low power Wi-Fi use by portable devices, making it the first country to do so. Very low power use allows outdoor interference to be eliminated, which is beneficial for a number of high-power, high data-consuming applications, including IoT, connected cars, AR, and VR. The United States is still to finalize plans for very low power use, despite being the first country to release the full 1.6 GHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band.

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Brazil Releases the Full 6 GHz Band for Unlicensed Wi-Fi Use

NEWS


In February 2021, Brazil’s telco regulator Anatel unanimously voted to release the full 1.2 GHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi, making it the second-largest area to do so after the United States. The entire band will be available for low power indoor Wi-Fi use, as well as very low power Wi-Fi use by portable devices, making it the first country to do so. Very low power use allows outdoor interference to be eliminated, which is beneficial for a number of high-power, high data-consuming applications, including IoT, connected cars, AR, and VR. The United States is still to finalize plans for very low power use, despite being the first country to release the full 1.6 GHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band.

Anatel has not yet made any standardization decisions to protect incumbent users of the 6 GHz band, unlike in regions such as the United States, which permits standard power Wi-Fi use indoors and outdoors under the Automatic Frequency Coordination database scheme. Anatel has, however, stated that it will propose a harmonization range recommendation for the rest of the Latin American region, based on what Brazil has experienced.   

Anatel's Decision Divides the Industry

IMPACT


The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) has supported the decision, stating that the full 6 GHz band will provide a boost to Brazil’s economy and allow for new technologies and use cases, benefiting from Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 connectivity and the improvements to the bandwidth and speed that they provide. The DSA also stated that the unlicensed 6 GHz band will benefit business and private consumers, offering support for applications such as HD video and cellular offloading. It will also provide standardization of Internet access, particularly from smaller ISPs. The DSA believes that other Latin American markets will announce similar plans for the 6 GHz band over the coming months, particularly Peru and Argentina.

However, there have been a number of operators, telcos, and other associations that wanted part of the spectrum to be saved for cellular services, having stated that the full band being released for unlicensed Wi-Fi use will be detrimental to 5G in the long term, hindering its ability to expand. There are also concerns that there will be interference from the 20,000 backhaul radio links in the 6 GHz band. Despite these comments, Anatel has confirmed that it is releasing the full band, expecting that Brazil will require it all for Wi-Fi. Other operators have also said that the band will provide growth in key services, including IoT, AI, and VR.

6 GHz and the Rest of the World

RECOMMENDATIONS


Canada is also on its way to releasing the 6 GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi use. In February 2021, the closing date for reply comments to the Government of Canada’s spectrum regulators’ consultation document outlining its plans to release the full 1,200 MHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band for low power indoor use passed. This consultation also outlined plans for very low power portable devices to also have access to the full spectrum. It is also expecting to release 950 MHz of spectrum for standard power Wi-Fi operation under the AFC database lookup scheme (which is 100 MHz more than the FCC has allocated within the United States). In Canada, the 6 GHz band is currently allocated for fixed service and fixed satellite service.

A large number of companies have filed comments on their views of the consultation document, with companies such as Apple, Intel, and Qualcomm, as well as a joint filing by the 6USC consortium, which involves Broadcom, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and more, supporting the plans. Other companies such as Canadian mobile telcos Rogers and Telus, along with Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung have filed comments countering the plans for releasing the full 6 GHz band.

Many other countries have also announced their plans for the 6 GHz band, opening it up for Wi-Fi use. The FCC in the United States was the first to announce its decision to release the full 1,200 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed Wi-Fi use. Ofcom in the United Kingdom followed, announcing that it is releasing the lower 500 MHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi. The Republic of Korea has also announced plans to release the full 1,200 MHz of the unlicensed 6 GHz band. SUBTEL in the Republic of Chile is also making the full band available. Other regions, including Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, and Europe are all also expected to release some or all of the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi soon, with consultations and talks about the new regulations taking place. Brazil fits in well with these regions, having released the full spectrum for low power indoor use as well as very low power indoor use.

Since the start of 2021, a number of device vendors have begun to release Wi-Fi 6E devices, with more expected to do so over the coming months, allowing rollout to accelerate further. For example, companies including ASUS, Linksys, Netgear, and TP-Link all released Wi-Fi 6E routers during CES 2021. Samsung has also released a Wi-Fi 6E smartphone, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is powered by Broadcom’s chipset platform. A number of other chipset and platform vendors, including Intel, MediaTek, ON Semiconductor, and Qualcomm, have also released or announced their Wi-Fi 6E portfolio, showing further traction for the technology across the market. In March 2021, Infineon announced its Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 combo SoCs for applications such as IoT, enterprise, industry, multimedia, consumer, automotive, gaming, AR, VR, smart speakers, media-streaming, and infotainment. All of these developments show an increase in traction from the Wi-Fi industry to move towards Wi-Fi 6E, with shipments of Wi-Fi 6E chipsets expected to increase from 6 million in 2020, to 569 million in 2025, at a CAGR of 147%.

 

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