US approves metaverse technology’s use of the faster 6GHz frequency

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Amid a surge of emerging mixed reality devices entering the market, the United States Federal Communications Commission has made a significant decision. It pertains to the realm of low-power wearable technology, encompassing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices, which hold a pivotal role in shaping the metaverse. Following a recent ruling by the United States communications regulatory body, these devices will now gain access to the 6-gigahertz (GHz) frequency band.

In a press release dated October 19, the Federal Communications Commission announced the opening of the 6 GHz frequency band to “very low power devices,” removing the requirement for a license. This move allows for the utilization of 850 megahertz of spectrum within this band. Notably, the 6 GHz band offers enhanced data transfer speeds, increased bandwidth, and reduced latency, a technical term for lag.

“This set of regulations will catalyze the emergence of a vibrant ecosystem of cutting-edge applications, notably in the realm of wearable technologies, augmented reality, and virtual reality,” the statement from the Commission underscored.

The 6 GHz frequency band, as asserted by the FCC, plays a pivotal role in facilitating next-generation Wi-Fi operations. It was initially made available for certain devices by the regulator in late 2020.

Tech giants like Meta, Apple, and Google have been actively involved in the development of AR and VR wearable devices. Meta unveiled its Quest 3 in early October, while Apple’s Vision Pro is expected to be shipped in early 2024. Notably, Meta also introduced a second iteration of its AR glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban in September. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple and Google are also engaged in the development of AR-enabled glasses.

These three major players in the tech industry initiated a petition to the FCC in early 2020, seeking access to the frequency spectrum for very low-power devices like their wearables.

Bloomberg highlighted various applications for the 6 GHz band, including linking AR/VR devices to smartphones and sharing navigation data with vehicles.

In its official statement, the FCC emphasized that the new rules are designed with caution, limiting permissible devices to very low power levels. These rules are complemented by additional requirements to enable their operation nationwide while safeguarding licensed services operating in the same frequency band.

It is worth noting that the 6 GHz band is also utilized by services responsible for managing the U.S. electric grids, long-distance phone services, and backhaul, which are the connections between core and subnetworks. Hence, the FCC’s oversight is necessary to prevent interference with licensed operations on the same frequency band. Moreover, the regulatory body has proposed expanding the scope of low-power devices to include the remaining 6 GHz band and allowing the use of higher power levels, albeit with geofencing mechanisms to prevent interference with licensed operations on the same band.

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