Wi-Fi Spectrum requirements

The EU’s Gigabit Infrastructure Act and the Digital Decade Policy Programme 2030 aim to ensure that a fixed Gigabit network (i.e., one providing connectivity at a downlink speed of 1 Gbps) covers all EU households. Wi-Fi plays a crucial role in the distribution of fixed broadband connectivity in homes, offices, and various other environments. The vast majority (up to 92%) of home internet traffic is connected to the end-user through Wi-Fi. In enterprise settings, Wi-Fi is essential for handling the large amounts of data and simultaneously connecting large number devices with improved reliability, higher data throughput and lower latencies.

The focus of this study is to simulate and analyse the impact of spectrum availability on Wi-Fi ability to support gigabit connectivity in the European residential deployments. The simulation models high-density Wi-Fi deployment in a typical residential apartment building with gigabit fibre connectivity to every apartment. The model is set to ensure that Wi-Fi spectrum congestion does not constrain (i.e., bottleneck) the gigabit connectivity.

The results of this study confirm that spectrum capacity available for Wi-Fi access in Europe is inadequate to support the EU’s Gigabit policy objectives. Inadequate spectrum capacity degrades Wi-Fi performance and, ultimately, undermines the gigabit infrastructure investments and benefits. Europe’s current five 160 MHz channels can only support gigabit coverage to approximately 50-60% of residential building area. To ensure whole-building coverage, a minimum of ten channels is necessary. Therefore, Wi-Fi access to the 6.425-7.125 GHz is imperative to support current and future generations of Wi-Fi in Europe.