Wi-Fi is getting its biggest upgrade in 20 years

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In a few months, there’s going to be a lot more Wi-Fi to go around. The Federal Communications Commission voted today to open up a plot of spectrum in the 6GHz band for unlicensed use — the same regulatory go-ahead that lets your router broadcast over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. That means there are now more open airwaves — a lot more — that routers can use to broadcast Wi-Fi signals. Once the new spectrum is officially opened for business later this year that should translate to faster, more reliable connections from the next generation of devices.

This is the biggest spectrum addition since the FCC cleared the way for Wi-Fi in 1989, so it’s a huge deal. The new spectrum basically quadruples the amount of space available for routers and other devices, so it will mean a lot more bandwidth and a lot less interference for any device that can take advantage of it.

“This is the most monumental decision around Wi-Fi spectrum in its history, in the 20 years we’ve been around,” Kevin Robinson, marketing leader for the Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry-backed group that oversees the implementation of Wi-Fi, said ahead of the vote.

Devices are expected to start supporting 6GHz Wi-Fi by the end of 2020, so its implementation isn’t far away. When it arrives, expect to see it branded under the name “Wi-Fi 6E.”

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