Ofcom serves up an extra helping of airwaves for Wi-Fi

Extra sub-band opened for nation's Netflix-noodlers

Ofcom plans to open up an extra sub-band to Blighty's Wi-Fi users, allowing the transmission of large amounts of data as well faster download speeds.

The regulator claims that would improve the quality of service, especially for applications that need more internet capacity, such as high-definition video.

Routers in the UK use part of the 2.4 GHz band, which is becoming increasingly congested and can impair broadband performance, said Ofcom.

Many people now have newer broadband routers, which use not only the 2.4 GHz band but also the 5 GHz band - which has much more spectrum and is less congested, it said.

To make connections faster, Ofcom is proposing to open up an additional sub-band within the 5 GHz frequency range for Wi-Fi – while ensuring protection for other spectrum 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. These extra channels – which are already being used in the US – could be opened up in a few years.

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 Wi-Fi Checker app to test if it’s working properly.” ®

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