US FCC grants low-power wearables license-free access to 6GHz spectrum for Metaverse growth


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  • FCC’s 6GHz access fuels VR/AR innovation.
  • Major tech players embrace metaverse potential.
  • Balancing innovation with essential services.

In a significant development, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted approval for low-power wearable technology, including virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) devices, to access the 6 GHz frequency band without the need for licensing. This move aims to accelerate the growth of the metaverse and related technologies by providing access to a spectrum characterized by faster speeds, increased bandwidth, and lower latency. Major tech players, including Meta, Apple, and Google, have been eagerly anticipating this regulatory change, which is expected to revolutionize the VR and AR landscape.

the FCC made a significant announcement, opening up the 6 GHz frequency band for “very low-power devices,” eliminating the requirement for obtaining a license. This regulatory update enables such devices to harness a substantial 850 megahertz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band. The FCC highlighted the band’s superior performance, including faster data speeds, enhanced bandwidth, and reduced latency, all of which are pivotal for the development of cutting-edge applications, including wearable technologies and augmented and virtual reality.

The 6 GHz frequency band is crucial for next-generation Wi-Fi operations and was initially made available for certain devices by the FCC in late 2020. With this recent decision, the FCC aims to foster an ecosystem of innovative applications, further bolstering the nation’s economy and enhancing consumer experiences. This development aligns with the growing interest in the metaverse, where VR and AR play a central role in shaping the future of digital interaction.

Leading tech giants, including Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, and Google, have been actively developing VR and AR wearables in anticipation of this regulatory change. Meta recently unveiled its Quest 3 in early October, while Apple’s Vision Pro is slated for release in early 2024. Furthermore, Meta introduced a second version of its AR glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban in September. Reports indicate that both Apple and Google are also in the process of developing AR-enabled glasses.

FCC responds to tech titans’ requests

These major tech players initially petitioned the FCC in early 2020 to open up the 6 GHz frequency spectrum to accommodate very low-power devices, particularly for their wearable products. This move is expected to enable a wide range of applications, such as connecting AR/VR devices to smartphones and facilitating the sharing of navigation data with vehicles, further expanding the capabilities of VR and AR technologies.

While the 6 GHz band holds immense potential for innovation, it also serves as a critical resource for various essential services, including managing the U.S. electric grids and supporting long-distance phone services. Moreover, it plays a crucial role in backhaul, which involves the transmission of data between core and subnetworks. Therefore, the FCC’s oversight is essential to ensure that the newfound access to this spectrum does not interfere with licensed operations.

In its statement, the FCC emphasized the importance of careful regulation to limit the power levels of permitted devices. This approach ensures that low-power devices can operate nationwide while safeguarding the integrity of licensed services that rely on the same frequency band. Additionally, the FCC has proposed the possibility of further expanding low-power device access to the remaining 6 GHz band and permitting higher power levels, provided that they are geofenced to prevent interference with licensed operations on the same spectrum.

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Lacton Muriuki

Lacton is an experienced journalist specializing in blockchain-based technologies, including NFTs and cryptocurrency. He dabbles in daily crypto news rich with well-researched stats. He adds aesthetic appeal, adding a human face to technology.

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