In a significant move for the burgeoning metaverse, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the green light for certain technologies to harness the 6GHz frequency band. This decision is timely, aligning with the influx of mixed reality devices making their debut in the tech market.
Access for Wearable Technologies
On October 19, the FCC announced a pivotal rule change: the 6GHz frequency band, offering a generous 850 megahertz of spectrum, will now be accessible to “very low power devices” sans licensing requirements. This development is particularly beneficial for low-power wearable technologies that are foundational to the metaverse, including devices designed for virtual and augmented reality experiences.
The Commission has adopted new rules to allow 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 6GHz band is a promising frontier for these devices, boasting advantages such as swifter speeds, expansive bandwidth, and notably reduced latency. These benefits are expected to enhance the overall user experience, paving the way for smoother and more immersive interactions within the metaverse.
AR and VR Wearables
Major technology players are not new to this frequency spectrum. Giants like Meta, Apple, and Google have been at the forefront of developing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) wearables tailored to deliver cutting-edge experiences to users. Their interest in the 6GHz band was evident when they petitioned the FCC in 2020, seeking permission to utilize this frequency spectrum for their innovative, low-power wearable devices.
The applications of the 6GHz band are vast and varied. For instance, it can be harnessed to seamlessly connect AR/VR devices to smartphones, enriching user experience. Another potential use is the sharing of navigation data with vehicles, enabling enhanced vehicle-to-device communication.
The FCC’s approval comes with a clear emphasis on maintaining the integrity of the frequency band. The regulatory body underlined the importance of ensuring that devices operate at very low power levels. This careful calibration is essential to prevent any interference with other critical services that share the same frequency spectrum.
Indeed, the 6GHz band is indispensable to several key services. These include the management of the U.S. electric grids, facilitating long-distance phone communications, and backhaul operations, which serve as vital links between core and subnetworks. Given the importance of these services, the FCC’s oversight is paramount to ensure that the new entrants do not disrupt their functioning.
While the current approval is a significant stride, the FCC’s vision for the 6GHz band doesn’t stop here. The regulatory body is contemplating further expansion, considering the possibility of permitting low-power devices to access the remaining bandwidth within the 6GHz band. Moreover, the FCC is also mulling over 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 coexisting on the same band.
In conclusion, the FCC’s decision marks a milestone in the evolution of the metaverse and wearable technology. As tech companies forge ahead with their innovations, this expanded access to the 6GHz band promises to catalyze the growth and richness of virtual and augmented reality experiences.