Ofcom sets out plans to speed up Wi-Fi using sub-band
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

Ofcom has today (13 May) set out plans to make Wi-Fi connections faster for millions of people across the UK by proposing to open up an additional "sub-band" within the 5 GHz frequency range.

These extra channels, which are already being used in the US, could be opened up in the next “few years” stated Ofcom. It has promised to ensure protection for other users, such as satellite services. The extra sub-band would increase the number of 80 MHz channels available for Wi-Fi from four to six, to accommodate data-hungry applications.

This would improve the quality of service, especially for applications requiring more internet capacity, like high-definition video. The move aims to address public demand for faster Wi-Fi speeds, created by broadband advancements, so that it can provide several services at once such as video streaming, video calls, gaming and remote working.

Many Wi-Fi routers in the UK currently use a part of the spectrum called the 2.4 GHz band, which is becoming increasingly congested and this can impair broadband performance. Many people now have newer broadband routers, which also use the 5 GHz band. This has much more spectrum and is less congested. Ofcom is keen to work with industry to understand how more allocated spectrum for Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz range might help meet growing demand - in particular, how and when additional spectrum should be made available, with safeguards to protect existing users.

Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum at Ofcom, said: “People are placing greater demands on their broadband, so we need to ensure they aren’t let down by their wireless connection.

“We also want to close the gap between advertised speeds and the wireless performance that people and businesses actually receive. So we’re exploring ways to open up more airwaves for Wi-Fi.

"In the meantime, people can check their router is up to date, and use our W-Fi Checker app to test if it’s working properly.”


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