Broader wi-fi band could interfere with Aussie frequency use

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Broader wi-fi band could interfere with Aussie frequency use

Equipment importers advised to check local requirements.

Wi-fi equipment using an expanded frequency range could cause trouble in Australia, following a recent decision by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allocate another 100MHz of 5GHz spectrum for unlicensed use.

The additional frequency band may become an issue if US-made and designed equipment is imported to Australia, as the spectrum allocations and power output in both countries differ.

Telco2 consultant Jonathan Brewer said while the US allows for 1 Watt output across the unlicensed 5GHz band used for wi-fi, in Australia, the allocation plan is very complex with some frequencies restricted to indoor use only at ultra-low power.

In the 5150-5250 MHz band that the FCC removed usage restrictions from, Australia allows just 200 milli Watt of equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP).

"The implications of the FCC reallocation are that US-based equipment will start using it, and so will any imports," Brewer said.

"Australian and New Zealand better be prepared for it to be used as soon as possible."

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is in charge of radio frequency band allocations here and is keeping an eye on the US developments for 5GHz wi-fi.

An ACMA spokesperson told iTnews the government agency was aware that the FCC was looking at supporting wi-fi across the entire 5GHz band, but said the arrangements were yet to be finalised and were under international consideration.

"Currently the ACMA arrangements [for 5GHz wi-fi] largely mirror those of other countries," the spokesperson said.

In Australia, the 5350-5470 MHz band is used for earth exploration and aircraft weather radar, and therefore excluded from the broader 5GHz wi-fi band, the ACMA spokesperson said.

Likewise, the 5600-5650 MHz band is out of bounds for wi-fi, as it is used by the Bureau of Meterology for an extensive network of weather radar stations across Australia.

The ACMA spokesperson said spectrum arrangements vary from country to country and equipment suppliers need to check Australian requirements before importing gear.

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