The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made a pivotal decision in light of the surge of mixed reality devices entering the market.
The green light has been given for low-power wearable tech, encompassing both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices pivotal for the metaverse, to utilize the 6 gigahertz (GHz) frequency. This decision comes after the communications authority adjusted its rules.
On October 19, the FCC revealed in a press statement that it had allocated the 6 GHz frequency for “very low power devices” without a licensing requirement, opening up a whopping 850 megahertz of spectrum. This frequency offers enhanced speed, expansive bandwidth, and diminished lag, referred to technically as “latency.”
The agency mentioned, “The newly established guidelines will catalyze an innovative ecosystem of applications, encompassing wearable tech and augmented and virtual reality experiences.”
The 6 GHz band, crucial for advanced Wi-Fi operations as emphasized by the FCC, was initially accessible for select devices by late 2020.
Anticipating this move to enrich user experiences and stimulate the U.S. economy, giants like Meta, Apple, and Google have been pioneering AR and VR wearables. Meta unveiled its Quest 3 in early October, with Apple’s Vision Pro set to be launched by 2024. September also saw Meta launching another iteration of its AR glasses in collaboration with Ray-Ban. Concurrently, reports suggest Apple and Google are developing AR-integrated glasses.
These major tech entities had previously appealed to the FCC in 2020, seeking to avail the frequency spectrum for their low-power wearable devices.
Some potential applications of the 6 GHz band, as pointed out by Bloomberg, include pairing AR/VR gadgets with smartphones or sharing navigational information with vehicles.
Ensuring balanced use, the FCC’s announcement emphasized that the newly adopted rules strictly restrict devices to minimal power outputs, coupled with additional stipulations ensuring nationwide operation without hindering other licensed services on the same frequency.
The 6 GHz frequency also supports vital operations like the U.S. electric grid management, long-haul phone services, and backhaul connectivity, thus underscoring the necessity of the FCC’s supervision.
Further deliberations by the FCC propose the possibility of broadening low-power device access across the entire 6 GHz spectrum, with potential allowances for elevated power levels, provided they employ geofencing to prevent disruptions to licensed operations within the same frequency.