FCC to free up additional Wi-Fi spectrum to boost speeds
The additional spectrum is solidly in the range of point-to-point and short range LAN/PAN communications. The advanced 'smart antenna' and multiple station/user MIMO techniques can significantly extend the range, however that incurs additional costs and will take years to evolve into commonplace use. The 'best spectrum is multiple spectrum' and multiple modes of operation. That has been fundamentally true for 3G which uses a some combination of lower frequency bands plus 2.4GHz WiFi to deliver bandwidth to users where 40%-50% of the traffic goes over the higher frequency band despite its use of a 'local area network' technology. In a similar way, 5GHz unlicensed spectrum can be used to provide an ad-hoc local and PAN, personal area network, coverage. That has advantages because more traffic will migrate to be used within the network and between devices. Network analysis shows that 60-80% of network traffic is local and time-diminishing in use. The 1-5Gbps possible using 802.11ah can be harnessed, if all the stars line up correctly, to work with other networks to serve a portion of that local-immediate traffic. How would that work?
That can work with an approach that is structurally/commercially similar to the satellite TV guys requirement to place high gain directional antennas on roofs in order to make DTV work. Except the benefits can now be made much greater using the advanced network topology enabled by smart antennas that are gotten down to a couple of chips and mass produced antenna assemblies.
This sets up the scenario where the SB-Sprint/CW+DISH collaboration can work using the array of spectrum. However, the competitors are not asleep to this possibility. In fact, the industry is generally looking at this and other unlicensed spectrum in many ways similar to the dynamics of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.. largely let the idiot public install it so that they can ride on top of it... or co-opt it. That is not a bad thing... the public will get pushed into the corner of spectrum that the operators don't see fit to exploit directly themselves because it costs too much and takes too fine a granularity or deployments. The technology is evolving to make that scrounge spectrum useful nonetheless. That will be a benefit to the public and so long as FCC open access and open device rules are not whittled down to being meaningless, that leaves the market open to innovations and alternatives.
Where would a fictional surviving Clearwire fit into the growing mix of new and new uses of spectrum and technology? The basic formula is to fit in as a large band still in a favorable frequency range. 3.5GHz, 5GHz bands, by comparison, are limited in range and capabilities despite using Co-MIMO/MU-MIMO MS and other advances. Its too late to build a new boat from the ground up without being taken out imo. DISH's offer falls short and compromises Sprint which they won't likely let happen unless its make part of a broader plan for acceptance of the Softbank's acquisition of Sprint and rolling in of other industry interests.
These discussions have broadened out and become more complex... How does the FCC and DoJ figure out what is fair, what will stimulate rather than adversely lock up competition? Big plots of spectrum, big acquisitions can't be done without impacting others on a long term basis. Spectrum is a long term deal.