Cable operators, wireless carriers and other Wi-Fi advocates applauded the adoption of an FCC order on Monday that aims to enable gigabit-speed Wi-Fi operations by removing current restrictions on the usage of unlicensed devices in the 5.150-5.250 GHz band. Approved unanimously by the FCC’s commissioners, the Report and Order lifts current restrictions on the operation of unlicensed national information infrastructure (U-NII) channels in the 5.150-5.250 GHz band that limit device usage to indoors only. The order also permits increases in permissible power levels for U-NII channels to facilitate higher transmission speeds for outdoor Wi-Fi operations. According to the FCC, these rule changes are intended “to allow U-NII devices to better integrate with other unlicensed portions of the 5 GHz band to offer faster speeds and reduce congestion at crowded Wi-Fi hotspots such as airports and convention centers.” In addition to streamlining the equipment authorization process for devices that operate throughout the 5 GHz band, the order also adopts transmission and interference standards that are the fruit of negotiations between the cable industry and Globalstar, which had argued that unlicensed outdoor usage of U-NII spectrum, would interfere with the company’s adjacent mobile satellite operations. While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler lauded the order as one that “transforms the spectrum from virtually unusable to usable for Wi-Fi,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel declared that the rule changes approved by the FCC “will have real impact because we are doubling the unlicensed bandwidth in the 5 GHz band overnight.” Executives at Globalstar and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) also welcomed the order, which NCTA President Michael Powell commended as a “win-win solution.”