Latta, Issa, Eshoo, Matsui Introduce Bipartisan Wi-Fi Innovation Act
House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Vice Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) today introduced the Wi-Fi Innovation Act, legislation that addresses growing spectrum demand by examining ways to improve spectrum efficiency and maximize its use.
“Demand for wireless spectrum is growing rapidly as smartphone and tablet users increasingly use Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet,” said Latta. “To accommodate this demand and support future mobile development and innovation, we must utilize spectrum more efficiently. The Wi-Fi Innovation Act paves a pathway to maximize the use of spectrum and examine ways to expand the deployment of wireless networks and services across the country, so all can benefit from this next-generation technology.”
“From personal communication to transportation, healthcare and beyond, wireless technologies are changing and improving our lives,” said Issa. “The Wi-Fi Innovation Act will make available the spectrum necessary to support the best new inventions and the jobs and prosperity these new discoveries will foster. I applaud the bipartisan work between my House colleagues Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA). Additionally, I am pleased to work in cooperation with both Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) for their efforts to push a companion bill through the Senate.”
“For three decades unlicensed spectrum has been the invisible backbone to myriad wireless technologies, ranging from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to garage doors and cordless phones. But in order to unlock the next generation of wireless technology we need to optimize our finite amount of available spectrum,” said Eshoo. “Last year, 57 percent of America’s mobile data traffic was offloaded onto Wi-Fi networks supported by unlicensed spectrum. It’s also estimated that unlicensed spectrum accounted for more than $200 billion of the U.S. economy in 2013, including $36 billion in savings to consumers. The bipartisan, bicameral Wi-Fi Innovation Act directs the FCC to determine the extent to which unlicensed spectrum can be shared and utilized in increasingly innovative ways to benefit consumers and our economy. It’s this kind of forward-thinking that will produce enormous economic benefits and could yield untold technological discovery.”
“Wi-Fi is already an integral part of our everyday lives; we must meet current demand and put in place a plan to meet growing needs,” continued Matsui. “The Wi-Fi Innovation Act will require the FCC to develop and adopt a testing process to evaluate the feasibility of sharing in the 5GHz band. It is my hope that the FCC will use this opportunity to produce hard data that can be relied upon during decision-making on the future of the 5GHz band. It is our responsibility to ensure that the U.S. continues to be the center for technology and innovation, and spectrum will be necessary to achieve this.”
The Wi-Fi Innovation Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct tests within the 5 GHz spectrum band to determine if spectrum can be shared without interfering with current users. The bill also acknowledges ongoing efforts related to the development of critical safety applications in vehicles and other intelligent transportation initiatives and creates a study to examine the barriers to Wi-Fi deployment in low-income areas.
This legislation builds on Latta, Issa, Eshoo and Matsui’s leadership in unleashing more unlicensed spectrum for consumers and innovators. Last year, the four members led a letter to then Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn urging the agency to make additional spectrum available for unlicensed use in the 5GHz band.
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