It will soon be easier to stream videos and browse the Web on Wi-Fi networks.
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Monday to set aside more airwaves for Wi-Fi, a move that will ease congestion and boost speeds for smartphones and laptops.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler described the agency’s action as “spinning straw into gold.”
“This opens all kinds of new opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators as well as relieving congestion,” Wheeler said. “Faster connections, less congestion all make it easier to get online.”
Exploding wireless Internet traffic has clogged Wi-Fi networks in recent years and made it difficult for people to connect to the Internet, especially in crowded areas like convention centers and airports.
Under the FCC’s order, Wi-Fi routers will have access to an additional 100 megahertz of spectrum — the radio frequencies that carry all wireless signals. The spectrum, which is in the 5 gigahertz band, was being used by the satellite phone provider Globalstar, but the company agreed to the new rules after the FCC set interference standards.
“While that sounds technical, this change will have real impact,” said Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
“For starters, if you like Wi-Fi, that is a lot more. Cheers for that. But the power of unlicensed goes beyond on ramps to the Internet and offloading for licensed services. It is the power of setting aside more of our airwaves for experiment and innovation without license. It is bound to yield new and exciting developments. It is also bound to be an economic boon.”
Unlicensed spectrum can be used by any company for free and powers a variety of technologies such as baby monitors and remote controls. But Wi-Fi accounts for the vast majority of traffic that travels over unlicensed spectrum and was what spurred the FCC to enact the new rules.
The FCC’s action will not help services like cellular networks that rely on licenses for exclusive use of spectrum. The FCC officials said they expect the demand for unlicensed spectrum to continue to explode in the coming years as more everyday devices like refrigerators and thermostats connect to the Internet.
The new rules will be finalized once they are published in the Federal Register. Device-makers will then be able to start designing Wi-Fi routers to use the new frequencies.
What We're Following See More »
About 5,500, according to official estimates. "The Monday figures marked a large increase from the protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where even the largest protests only drew a couple of hundred demonstrators. But it’s a far cry from the 35,000 to 50,000 that Philadelphia city officials initially expected."
Only a day after FiveThirtyEight's Now Cast gave Donald Trump a 57% chance of winning, the New York Times' Upshot fires back with its own analysis that shows Hillary Clinton with a 68% chance to be the next president. Its model "calculates win probabilities for each state," which incorporate recent polls plus "a state's past election results and national polling." Notably, all of the battleground states that "vote like the country as a whole" either lean toward Clinton or are toss-ups. None lean toward Trump.
On the second ballot, the Indiana Republican Party's Central Committee tapped Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb as their nominee to succeed Gov. Mike Pence this fall. "Holcomb was a top aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Dan Coats and a former chairman of the state Republican Party."
"Negotiations are underway to have Bernie Sanders officially nominate Hillary Clinton for president at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, a move that would further signal party unity. According to a source familiar with the talks, the Vermont senator would nominate the presumptive Democratic nominee after the roll call vote."
Bernie Sanders said he'll begin pivoting his campaign to an organization designed to help candidates at the local level around the country. At a breakfast for the Wisconsin delegation to the DNC this morning, he said the new group will "bring people into the political process around a progressive agenda," as it supports candidates "running for school board, for city council, for state legislature."