New spectrum becomes available to Wi-Fi routers, which may help some users with connectivity problems.
Ofcom has allocated 500 MHz of new spectrum for Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz and updated technical requirements for Wi-Fi routers.
The news will be welcomed by many, as currently many users struggle with Wi-Fi connectivity. This is especially the case as more of us stream HD TV content. One of the issues is that, particularly in urban areas, the Wi-Fi frequency bands are full.
Frequency shortages can affect Wi-Fi
As a result, everyone’s Wi-Fi router is competing to drown out interference from neighbours using the same frequencies. Additionally, devices such as baby monitors may also create interference. Currently Wi-Fi uses either the 2.4 or 5 GHz bands. In the 5 GHz band, it is not uncommon for routers supplied by the main ISPs including BT and Sky to cover a large chunk of the available band leaving no further frequencies available to others. While boosters improve coverage within the house, it can affect others. A neighbour may have no choice but to boost their signal on the same frequency to improve their connectivity. Where possible, changing a Wi-Fi network to use a frequency that is clear or less used will improve speed. Mobile apps like ‘Wifi Analyzer’ help identify lesser used frequencies.
But the higher frequencies opened by Ofcom penetrate less and a network of boosters may be required to give full coverage through a house. Otherwise, 6 GHz Wi-Fi is ideal for covering all devices in the same area of the house. Used in combination with Wi-Fi networks at lower frequencies, the whole house can be covered.
The announcement is part of a number of changes Ofcom has confirmed for short range devices (SRDs).
SRDs include devices such as Wi-Fi routers, smart meters and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The changes are part of the Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) Regulations 2021, which come into force on 12 May 2021. Full details of the changes are available on the Ofcom website.