In a major move for the emerging metaverse, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the green light for certain technologies to exploit it 6 GHz frequency band. This decision is timely, aligned with the influx of mixed reality devices making their debut in the tech market.
Access for mobile technologies
On October 19, the FCC announced a key rule change: the 6 GHz frequency band, which offers a generous 850 megahertz of spectrum, will now be accessible to “very low-power devices” without license requirements. This development is particularly beneficial for low-power wearable technologies that are fundamental to the metaverse, including devices designed for virtual and augmented reality experiences.
The Commission approved new rules allowing very low-power devices to operate in the 6 GHz band alongside other Wi-Fi-enabled devices: https://t.co/HFaf2Hbh4M
— The FCC (@FCC) October 19, 2023
The 6 GHz band is a promising frontier for these devices, with advantages such as faster speeds, extended bandwidth, and significantly reduced latency. These advantages are expected to improve the overall user experience, paving the way for smoother and more immersive interactions within the metaverse.
AR and VR Wearables
Big tech players are not new to this frequency spectrum. Giants like Meta, Apple and Google have pioneered the development of wearable Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) devices tailored to deliver cutting-edge experiences to users. Their interest in the 6GHz band was evident when they filed a request with the FCC in 2020, asking for permission to use this frequency spectrum for their innovative low-power portable devices.
The applications of the 6 GHz band are vast and varied. For example, it can be leveraged to seamlessly connect AR/VR devices to smartphones, enriching the user experience. Another potential use is sharing navigation data with vehicles, enabling improved vehicle-to-device communication.
Protection of interests
The FCC approval comes with a clear emphasis on maintaining the integrity of the frequency band. The regulator stressed the importance of ensuring devices operate at very low power levels. This careful calibration is necessary to avoid any interference with other critical services that share the same frequency spectrum.
Indeed, the 6 GHz band is essential for many essential services. These include managing the US electric grids, facilitating long-distance telephone communications, and backhaul operations, which serve as vital links between the core and sub-networks. Given the importance of these services, FCC oversight is paramount to ensure that new entrants do not disrupt their operation.
While the current approval is an important step, the FCC’s vision for the 6 GHz band does not stop here. The regulator is considering further expansion, looking at allowing low-power devices to access the remaining bandwidth within the 6 GHz band. In addition, the FCC is also considering the idea of allowing devices to operate at higher power levels, provided they are geofenced. This geofencing would act as a protective barrier, ensuring that there is no interference with licensed operations co-existing in the same zone.
In conclusion, the FCC decision marks a milestone in the evolution of metaverse and wearable technology. As technology companies move forward with their innovations, this expanded access to the 6GHz band promises to catalyze the growth and richness of virtual and augmented reality experiences.