Story 1XDQ9 The fight over a new Wi-Fi channel is coming to a head

The fight over a new Wi-Fi channel is coming to a head

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story imageGlobalstar Inc., operator of a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation for phones, plans to open up another Wi-Fi channel, but only for those who can pay. Globalstar's petition seeks to expand its use of the 2483.5-2495 MHz (Channel 14) band. Unlike all other Wi-Fi channels, which are open to any FCC-approved device and don’t require permission, this one would be under Globalstar’s control. A carrier that makes a deal with Globalstar might be able to set that channel aside for its own subscribers.

While users in some other countries have been using channel 14 for years, part of it has been set aside in the U.S. as a guard band to protect Globalstar’s satellite frequencies. Most Wi-Fi devices could be easily modified via firmware upgrades to take advantage of the extra channel. The plan has come under sharp criticism during the lengthy approval process at the FCC. Microsoft, Google, the cable industry and backers of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth all have filed comments urging the agency not to approve the scheme. Tests at the FCC have shown it would interfere with Bluetooth, which already uses part of the channel. But the non-profit Public Knowledge is supporting the plan, as encouraging more competition and more public internet access options. The Globalstar proceeding has been in the works going on three years.
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