Airspace for Wi-Fi could run out by 2020

The success of Wi-Fi is based off its own simplicity; for most consumers it ‘just works’. However, this popularity could be the result of the protocol’s own weakness. Tech watchdog Ofcom reckons we could face major Wi-Fi congestion within seven years.

The radio spectrum provides the backbone for Wi-Fi connectivity, and it is not limitless. It will eventually become overcrowded and slow; with more than just Wi-Fi relying on its existence this could happen rapidly. Secure services, like military-controlled communications also use the same backbone and cannot be intruded upon. This results in competition for what parts of the spectrum are available.

As Ofcom is UK based, a lot of their examples rely on the United Kingdom. However, the same situation is likely global. Growth from now to 2030 is going to skyrocket, and the only thing that could stop it would be cramming the airspace so full Wi-Fi connectivity becomes unbearably slow. Which may well happen, at a much faster rate.

Ofcom drew attention to simply clearing out parts of the spectrum. After all, some uses have to be obsolete, right? On paper at least, it would improve both coverage and capacity. Managing it would be a challenge, for nobody will give up valuable airspace unless for plenty of cash their way.

The costs of clearing the spectrum could turn out to be astronomical, in which case the cost would inevitably be transferred to consumers. The public wouldn't be getting Wi-Fi ready devices for the same price-point if everyone was being forced to fork out and clear part of the system's congestion.

The other big suggestion Ofcom brings up is to increase the availability of bandwidth at higher frequences, like 5GHz and up. Again, this isn't a guaranteed success since it would tread on the toes of more secure services. Again, military and medical services may be operating at these frequencies to prevent this happening.

Source: The Telegraph, Ofcom (PDF) | Images via Shutterstock and Ofcom

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Master of Earth said,
what is the Post Wi-fi era will be? Light?

There is an extremely small chance that post Wifi is Quantum Entanglement Networks, there are billions invested by companies and governments and just little delivered.

In theory, a QE connection does not require wireless spectrum, and it works like …. (no one actually know why quantum connection work anyway, this is why some people love to call it data teleportation) they are just discovering ways to produce the connection, but no soild theories yet why it works.

You can be in China, and your router in the US and it should still work (although the maximum distance tested so far was about 150km).

Give it 5 to 10 years max, it will either fail or will revolutionize the internet.

Did I ever tell you that a wired connection is faster, and I guess more reliable now.

One day science would figure something out

Vinylchan said,
Did I ever tell you that a wired connection is faster

It surely is, but the speed of current day Wifi > average internet speeds, so a faster 'wired' connection will make no sense when the bottleneck is the internet speed.

hmm depends, I got a 80mbps subscription and on wifi I get max 50mbps and on lan I get 80mbps so there is a difference, a lot of wifi cards aren't as fast as they should be

So not the internet connection itself ia bottleneck lately but also the cheap hardware oems use in their pc's.

Seahorsepip said,
hmm depends, I got a 80mbps subscription and on wifi I get max 50mbps and on lan I get 80mbps so there is a difference, a lot of wifi cards aren't as fast as they should be

So not the internet connection itself ia bottleneck lately but also the cheap hardware oems use in their pc's.


Doesn't Wifi N do 600 Mbit/s ? Or are there restraints on it?

There are restrains, 600mb's is theoretical when the device is litterally on top of the router but in reality the wifi speed is way less because of walls and distance

Not only that, but from my personal experience, WiFi can have random hiccups sometimes. Whether you're in a fire-fight on an FPS game or submitting that 150 question test, you definitely don't want to run into issues like these.

That's why I've always stuck with a hardline for my main desktop(s).

Same here I happened to send a word document for school to the printer and close Word after I did that but because of wifi hoccups the file never arrived and Word was already closed... Very sad moment of the day lol