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FCC to push for faster wi-fi at airports, other hubs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Telecommunications regulators are planning a push to increase wi-fi speed in airports, convention centers and other major hubs where travelers often see download speeds slow to a maddening crawl.

Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday that the agency planned to free up unlicensed spectrum in the 5 gigahertz band in order to improve wi-fi service both in terms of speed and capacity.

It would be the largest block of unlicensed spectrum to be made available for expansion of wi-fi since 2003, the FCC said.

"As this spectrum comes on line, we expect it to relieve congested Wi-Fi networks at major hubs like convention centers and airports," said Genachowski, according to a statement from the FCC.

"It will also help in homes as tablets and smartphones proliferate and video use rises," he added. Improved HD video distribution capability will be among the benefits.

Genachowski said that the first steps to free up the spectrum would be taken in February.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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