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Creating a Peaceful Wireless Coexistence with Wi-Fi


Walking into a crowded theater or stadium, it's always nice to know you have reserved seats. People might be roving everywhere, taking up space in erratic patterns as they seek their destination, but it all feels manageable because you know that somewhere in the ever-shifting din, there is a seat with your number on it.

A similar sense of that crowded chaos has persisted across the wireless landscape, as spectrum grows scarcer and the number of devices existing within it continue to multiply. But now with the addition of the 5GHz band there is hope for something like the security of those reserved seats — even with Wi-Fi devices sharing the same frequencies.

As many increasingly stressed out wireless coordinators would attest, arriving on site and finding an open and reliable channel is as unlikely as finding a spot in the unassigned bleachers at a championship final. Even with the increased bandwidth afforded by the move into the 5GHz spectrum, a quick scan with a RF Spectrum analyzer will usually reveal several access points occupying 5GHz channels. Then as more users connect their devices to the wireless network, the number of available channels shrinks even more.

Here’s where a little help from the 5GHz version of a friendly usher can come in handy. Alongside the extra bandwidth found in the 5GHz realm, there is the added bonus of Static Frequency Allocation, which makes  it possible to dedicate select spots for devices.

This is a capability which Clear-Com® takes advantage of in its development of the new 5GHz FreeSpeak Edge™ digital wireless intercom system. Now, as professional users add their intercom systems to a busy atmosphere of Wi-Fi and countless other devices, a bit of coordination with the on-site IT team can provide the comfort of a couple of reserved spots for steady quality of service.

That’s beneficial not only for intercom users, but also for their neighbors on the network. With some coordination with IT up front, various operators of cameras, scoreboards and other wireless communications devices can each have their dedicated sector of 5GHz — all while leaving room for Wi-Fi service, of course. And meanwhile FreeSpeak Edge will stay fixed in its own two channels, over which it has the ability to send and receive audio simultaneously.

While those who have worked within the 1.9GHz and 2.4GHz ranges will be leery of sharing terrain with Wi-Fi, there are noted differences between those systems and new 5GHz devices. Whereas in 1.9GHz and 2.4GHz bands the signal will bounce around to different frequencies as it senses traffic, the 5GHz FreeSpeak Edge system will stay in its exclusive allocated band, which improves quality of service.

Of further benefit with 5GHz is its limited penetration through walls and floors, which aids in the reuse of frequencies. For example, if a user has a transceiver located in the lobby that is using channels 36 and 52, those channels could be re-used on a second or third transceiver in a different part of the building, as long as there is no RF overlap between the two transceivers.

Together, the inherent technical factors of 5GHz, combined with Clear-Com's robust implementation of the technology in its ground-up design of FreeSpeak Edge, make for a digital intercom system that brings more stability to the volatile wireless landscape. With a little bit of coordination, operators can reserve their own channels and collaborate to create a peaceful coexistence.