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Friday, 14 February 2014 11:14

US at risk of Wi-Fi crisis


As the NBN debate continues to rage on in Australia, a coalition of US tech companies and advocacy groups is calling for the expansion of Wi-Fi, arguing its airwaves are getting too congested.

The coalition, including traditional rivals Google, Microsoft, Comcast, the Consumer Electronics Association and other companies and organisations, are calling for expansion of unlicensed, or free spectrum, WiFi.

"In the United States, more internet traffic is carried over Wi-Fi than any other path," the coalition said in a statement today.

"Recent analyses indicate that Wi-Fi in our homes, businesses, schools and libraries is becoming congested by a deluge of data from more devices, applications and services connecting to the internet without wires."

The coalition, which also includes the American Library Association, said Wi-Fi in the US was at risk of a "crunch", with Wi-Fi use growing at 68% a year.

It describes itself as "an ad hoc, broad-based group of companies, organizations and public sector institutions working to alleviate the Wi-Fi spectrum crunch and to support making Wi-Fi even better by finding more unlicensed spectrum," and called on the government-run Federal Communications Commission to open up more spectrum for Wi-Fi.

"Consumers deserve access to their information and entertainment where and when they want it," said the Consumer Electronics Association's Julie Kearney.

"Unlicensed spectrum not only underlies the delivery of that data on demand, but also fuels our innovation economy."

The group released a study that concludes unlicensed spectrum generated $US222 billion ($A247 billion) in value to the US economy in 2013 and contributed $US6.7 billion to US economic output.

Paul Mitchell, head of technology police at Microsoft, said Wi Fi "enabled people to connect, learn, explore, and grow."

"We need to ensure that our access to spectrum for Wi Fi - supporting our growing innovation economy - keeps pace with our evolving needs," he said.

More information on the coalition including a list of partnering companies can be found here.

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