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WBA Celebrates Saudi Arabia’s Groundbreaking Designation for Unlicensed Spectrum

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Saudi Arabia’s CITC Designates 1200 MHz of Spectrum for License-Exempt Use and Paves Way for Wi-Fi 6E & Wi-Fi 7

London – March 31st 2021: The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the body leading development of next-generation Wi-Fi services, commends the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) for their groundbreaking spectrum designation of the entire 6 GHz band (5.925-7.125 GHz) for license-exempt use. Saudi Arabia is the first country in the Middle East, Europe, or Africa to designate all 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use. The Kingdom now has more than 2 GHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi operations – the most mid-band spectrum designated by any country globally.

The Kingdom made this decision after a comprehensive consultation, significant engagement with various global stakeholders, and trials with Wi-Fi 6E equipment furnished by WBA members Broadcom Inc. and Intel Corporation. The trials demonstrated that the Kingdom could advance its digital ambitions, achieving 2 Gigabits per second speed in laptop computers, while enabling continued operations with existing users of the 6 GHz band.

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Kingdom’s decision for digitizing its economy and enabling next-generation services. In WBA’s annual report, members of the Wi-Fi industry said that the 6 GHz band is a critical component of their network strategy, with 78% seeking to take advantage of this spectrum to deliver high speed wireless broadband. By making all 1200 MHz of the band available, the Saudi’s have created a wireless superhighway with seven non-overlapping 160 MHz channels of green field spectrum for Wi-Fi 6E devices to use. Saudis will enjoy high reliability Wi-Fi that doubles the speeds and halves the latency compared to the capacity-constrained 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

The Kingdom will also be well positioned to lead in Wi-Fi 7 deployments when it becomes available. With this broad-based designation, Wi-Fi 7 deployments using 320 MHz wide channels will get up to 5 gigabits per second in mobile devices at very low latencies. This sets the stage for the Kingdom to further reap the benefits of contextual Internet, integrated communications services, and immersive AR/VR for telemedicine, education and worker training.

With Saudi Arabia joining the ranks of the US, South Korea, Brazil, and others, in designating all 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz band for license-exempt use, the WBA hopes that other regulators in the region will take note and make a similar commitment to advancing their own wireless broadband capabilities. This will lead to Global harmonization, which is key to scale, accelerating technology development, and reducing costs for end-users.

“The CITC’s decision is a clear global milestone,” said Tiago Rodrigues, WBA CEO. “Saudi Arabia has set out a leading position for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and raised the bar for the rest of the world. The WBA strongly recommends that regulators in other countries pay close attention to Saudi Arabia’s example of allocating the entire 6GHz band for license-exempt use. The release of the full 1200 MHz provides enhanced flexibility for both indoor and outdoor deployments and lays the foundation for the Kingdom’s citizens and businesses to set a path for the adoption of Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 when that technology debuts. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with CITC, and I look forward to further collaboration by enabling OpenRoaming trials, which will enable secure and seamless roaming.”

Rodrigues continued, “The CITC ruling underlines how important 6 GHz spectrum is in achieving the Kingdom’s vision to transform Saudi Arabia into a digital society. Overnight, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a model for how the rest of the world can use spectrum policy to ensure that their schools, health care providers, businesses, citizens and visitors can provide affordable, reliable, multi-gigabit connectivity and take full advantage of Wi-Fi and 5G.”

Welcoming the CITC ruling, WBA Member companies said:
Vijay Nagarajan, Vice President of Marketing, Wireless Communications and Connectivity Division, ‎Broadcom Inc.
Broadcom commends CITC for its visionary designation of 1200 MHz of the 6 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi. This truly brings the best out of Wi-Fi 6E for gigabit broadband. Equally important are the exemplary rules crafted for portable Wi-Fi devices to disrupt fields like telemedicine and education. We are pleased that the Saudi Arabia Wi-Fi 6E trials that we enabled jointly with Intel catalyzed this momentous designation by the CITC. We are also happy to note that Saudi Arabians can instantly benefit from the Broadcom powered Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem of devices available in the market today.

Eric McLaughlin, Vice President, Client Computing Group, and General Manager, Wireless Solutions Group, Intel Corporation
“Intel would like to congratulate the CITC on its transformative direction to approve the entire 6 GHz band for unlicensed use. With this new spectrum allocation Saudi Arabia is well positioned to lead the regional transition to Wi-Fi 6E and future Wi-Fi 7 technologies that will broadly enable ultra-low latency and gigabit-speed Wi-Fi capabilities to meet the growing needs across all market segments. We are honored to have been able to contribute to the Wi-Fi 6E trials which helped support CITC’s historic decision alongside our industry colleagues at Broadcom and the Wireless Broadband Alliance.”

Matt MacPherson, Wireless CTO, Cisco
Cisco congratulates Saudi Arabia and CITC on the ground-breaking decision to open up the entire continuous 6 GHZ spectrum for unlicensed use. Wi-Fi 6E unleashes the full potential of Wi-Fi allowing a host of new devices and services to emerge. It means more speed, higher-data rates, and better security for a multitude of new capabilities and applications including VR, robotics, and IoT. We commend this pioneering move to create a more connected future.

About the Wireless Broadband Alliance
Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is the global organization that connects people with the latest Wi-Fi initiatives. Founded in 2003, the vision of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is to drive seamless, interoperable service experiences via Wi-Fi within the global wireless ecosystem. WBA’s mission is to enable collaboration between service providers, technology companies, cities, regulators and organizations to achieve that vision. WBA’s membership is comprised of major operators, identity providers and leading technology companies across the Wi-Fi ecosystem with the shared vision.

WBA undertakes programs and activities to address business and technical issues, as well as opportunities, for member companies. WBA work areas include standards development, industry guidelines, trials, certification and advocacy. Its key programs include NextGen Wi-Fi, OpenRoaming, 5G, IoT, Testing & Interoperability and Policy & Regulatory Affairs, with member-led Work Groups dedicated to resolving standards and technical issues to promote end-to-end services and accelerate business opportunities.

The WBA Board includes AT&T, Boingo Wireless, Broadcom, BT, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom AG, GlobalReach Technology, Google, Intel, Reliance Jio, SK Telecom and Viasat. For the complete list of current WBA members, click here: https://wballiance.com/join-us/current-members/

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Media contacts:
US Media Inquiries
Sonus PR for WBA
Micah Warren
+1 (609) 247-6525
[email protected]

EMEA/ROW Media Inquiries
Sonus PR for WBA
Chevaan Seresinhe
+44 20 3751 0330
[email protected]

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