World Radiocommunications group OKs new spectrum for WLANs worldwide

Delegates to the International Telecommunication Union's World Radiocommunications Conference 2003 (WRC-03) in Geneva gave final approval yesterday to a new global allocation for wireless LANs that operate in the 5-GHz spectrum band, according to John Alden, a spokesman for the U.S. delegation.

Craig Barratt, president of Atheros Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif-based WLAN chip set manufacturer, called the agreement reached at a WRC plenary meeting a "defining moment for the WLAN industry as a whole." Barratt said the new global allocation will "provide adequate spectrum for high-capacity public and private wireless networks free of interference problems that limit the use of available bands."

The U.S. WRC delegation, in a statement released by Alden, said the decision will harmonize the spectrum available for WLAN use worldwide, "allowing manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and lowering deployment costs for networks -- a key advantage for deployment of broadband capabilities in developing countries.

The WRC approved use of WLANs in the 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-to-5350-MHz and 5470-to-5725-MHz bands, which will provide a total of at least 19 nonoverlapping WLAN channels for global use, according to Atheros.

The final WRC decision on 5-GHz WLAN spectrum said countries should take "appropriate measures" to restrict use of the 5250-to-5350-MHz bands to indoor use. Member states of the European Union had pushed for this provision because oftheir concerns that outdoor use in that band could cause interference with aircraft navigation systems and earthy sensing satellites.

The WRC ends on Friday, and the U.S. continues to work to resolve another key issue: allocation of new spectrum for its new, higher-powered Global Positioning System satellite navigation system.

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