Low-power wearable technology, including virtual and augmented reality devices crucial to the metaverse, will be permitted to tap into the 6 GHz frequency band following a rule change from the United States communications regulator.
In an Oct. 19 press release, the Federal Communications Commission said it opened up the 6 GHz frequency band to “very low power devices” without needing a license, permitting a total of 850 megahertz of spectrum.
The band boasts faster speeds, more bandwidth and lower lag — or “latency” in technical terms.
“These rules will spur an eco-system of cutting-edge applications, including wearable technologies and augmented and virtual reality,” it said in a statement.
The 6 GHz band is, as the FCC claims, “important for next-generation Wi-Fi operations” and was first opened for use for some devices by the regulator in late 2020.
The Commission has adopted new rules to allow very low power devices to operate in the 6 GHz band alongside other Wi-Fi-enabled devices: https://t.co/HFaf2Hbh4M
— The FCC (@FCC) October 19, 2023
The FCC said its decision would “enrich consumer experiences and bolster the nation’s economy.”
Meta, Apple and Google have been working on AR or VR wearables — the latest to drop was Meta’s Quest 3 in early October, while Apple’s Vision Pro is expected to ship in early 2024.
The three Big Tech players first petitioned the FCC in early 2020 to open up the frequency spectrum so they could use it for very low-power devices such as their wearables.
Uses for the 6GHz band highlighted by Bloomberg included connecting AR/VR devices to a smartphone or sharing navigation data with a vehicle.
In its statement, the FCC said the new rules were careful to limit permitted devices to very low power levels subject to other requirements that would allow their operation across the country while protecting licensed services that operate on the same band.
The 6 GHz band is also used by services that manage the U.S. electric grids, long-distance phone services, and backhaul — the links between core and subnetworks — hence the need for FCC oversight.
The regulator also proposed expanding the low-power devices to use the remaining 6 Ghz band…