Chile Opens 6 GHz Band For Unlicensed Usage

Last updated on November 23rd, 2020

Chile has become the 4th country in the world after USA and UK to allow license-free usage of spectrum in the 6 GHz wireless band. Through this Chile has opened its market for the upcoming WiFi 6E access points.

World is opening up for 6 GHz WiFi

IEEE 802.11ax based WiFi 6 has become the next big thing in the consumer and Enterprise WiFi market. As per IDC, WiFi 6 Access Points have taken an impressive 28.9% share of Enterprise WLAN market in the 2nd quarter of 2020. WiFi 6 access points had a 3.1% market share in 3rd quarter of 2019 when 802.11ax shipping began.

WiFi 6 top features
WiFi 6 Top Features (Image Courtesy: Wi-Fi Alliance)

802.11ax is a paradigm shift in WiFi technology. It has been launched with the specific goal of making WiFi more efficient within the limitations of existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum. But the biggest USP of 802.11ax High Efficiency (HE) standard is its ability to operate in the 6 GHz spectrum, labelled by WiFi Alliance as WiFi 6E. The high efficient standard, in a congestion-free band is expected to give unmatched performance benefits to end users. But 6 GHz unlicensed bandwidth was not available anywhere in the world when 802.11ax was launched in the market.

USA’s historic decision, followed by other global regulators

Through its trailblazing decision on April 23, 2020, USA became the first country in the World to make 6 GHz spectrum license-free. USAs FCC released a continuous chunk of 1200 MHz spectrum between 5.925 GHz and 7.125 GHz for unlicensed operations. This was followed by UK’s decision to exempt license for wireless communications in 500 MHz of spectrum between 5.925 GHz and 6.425 GHz. South Korea opened up a continuous chunk of 1200 MHz spectrum at 6 GHz band on Oct 15th, 2020. Being a technically advanced country, 6 GHz WiFi is expected to propagate quickly in South Korean market once the devices are made available. Also active consultations are going on in Brazil, Europe and few other countries for making 6 GHz spectrum license-exempt.

Chile’s decision to open 6 GHz

In these exciting times for WiFi technology, Chile has opened its market for WiFi 6E by exempting license for the whole 6 GHz band. SUBTEL (Subsecretaría de Telecomunicaciones de Chile ), Chile’s telecom regulator has released 1200 MHz of continuous spectrum from 5.925 GHz to 7.125 GHz for unlicensed commercial use. But for the time being, only indoor operations have been allowed in the 6 GHz band. Other conditions and specifications of the regulator’s order is summarized below.

Specifications of Chile’s 6 GHz license exemption

  1. 5.925 GHz to 7.125 GHz opened for unlicensed use
  2. Indoor operations only
  3. Access Point EIRP: 30 dBm
  4. Access Point max spectral density: 5 dBm/MHz
  5. Access points to have internal antennas only
  6. Antennas should not be removable or replaceable
  7. Access points should not be operated though internal batteries
  8. No space for internal batteries should be present
  9. Client device EIRP: 26 dBm
  10. Client device max spectral density: -1 dBm/MHz

Expected impact of this decision

By becoming the first country in South American market to make 6 GHz band license-exempt, Chile has taken the lead in embracing the next big thing in WiFi communications. This prompt should probably initiate or speed up discussions in other neighboring markets. Notably, Brazil’s Anatel had already started consultations on opening up the 6 GHz band. When this biggest South American market comes on board, other countries can also be expected to quickly follow suit. The domino effect could set up South America for the next big technology leap in WiFi.