Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the Internet of Things (IoT) Spectrum Notice of Inquiry. This directs the FCC to gather input and public comment on whether adequate spectrum is available, what regulatory barriers might hinder the provision of spectrum needed for IoT, and the role of licensed and unlicensed spectrum in the growth of IoT. This is an important step in ensuring a balanced approach to spectrum allocation.
The IoT refers to the vast array of internet-connected devices that are able to collect and transfer data. These devices have become ubiquitous for many Americans, from thermostats to baby monitors, and now there are more internet-connected devices than people in the world. In FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s statement, she notes that by the end of the decade we expect more than 20 billion connected devices worldwide. These devices can serve important functions, both for businesses and consumers. The growth of IoT is likely to continue as more devices become “smarter” and more affordable.
Spectrum is a finite and valuable resource. As such, unutilized or underutilized spectrum can hinder the development and growth of new technologies. The FCC’s role is to ensure spectrum is allocated effectively. Both licensed spectrum, which is reserved for a specific use like television broadcasting, and unlicensed spectrum, which is important for Wi-Fi technology and the IoT, play an important role in the progression towards next generation technologies. The adoption of the Notice of Inquiry this week will provide insights to how spectrum should be allocated to promote and support new innovative technologies.
Even in an agency divided 2-2 among Democrats and Republicans, the FCC is taking common-sense steps to ensure we have a balanced approach to spectrum policy. Pragmatic spectrum policy will help usher in the next generation of technology. The adoption of the Notice of Inquiry is a welcome move for taxpayers.