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Apple, other tech firms petition FCC for short-range 6GHz Wi-Fi tethering

Apple is among several major U.S. tech firms petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to approve a limited form of 6-gigahertz Wi-Fi, spectrum also in demand with the cellular and utility industries.

Other parties in the petition include Broadcom, Marvell, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, HP, Qualcomm, and Intel, according to a recent filing shared by Wi-Fi Now. While the FCC previously greenlit the 6-gigahertz band for unlicensed use, the cellular industry has argued that at least a portion of that spectrum should remain licensed for the sake of 5G. Utilities, meanwhile, sometimes employ 6-gigahertz antennas for communications backhaul.

Apple and peers are requesting short-range, Very Low Power (VLP) transmissions over the spectrum without any other restriction — for instance delivering 2-gigabit bandwidth at a range of 3 meters (9.8 feet). 5G is once again cited as a reason, in this case because devices like laptops and AR/VR headsets will need high-speed tethering to exploit 5G connections.

Apple is widely believed to be developing an AR headset, the first iteration of which could ship as soon as 2020. It may be mostly reliant on a paired iPhone, not just for internet access but some processing tasks.

Even without an AR product, Mac and iPad owners will naturally want the option of full-speed 5G when tethering to future iPhones. The first 5G-capable iPhones are expected in the fall of 2020, using Qualcomm modems.