Growing Our Broadband Resources

To remain a leader in the global economy, and to keep up with burgeoning consumer demand, we must increase access to our nation’s valuable spectrum resources. The Innovation Movement supports forward-thinking spectrum policies that will usher in a new era of broadband for all Americans.

Latest Developments

  • On June 16, CEA released Unlicensed Spectrum and the American Economy, a report which found that unlicensed spectrum generates $62 billion a year for the U.S. economy. Consumer demand for products like Bluetooth and radio frequency identification-enabled devices is, in turn, driving the need for even more unlicensed spectrum.
  • CEA released a study on June 5 which found that only six percent of U.S. households rely exclusively on free over-the-air television. As consumers continue to turn to other devices and services for TV programming, it’s clear that the free, public spectrum given to broadcasters could be put to better use.
  • On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a much-needed move towards approving rules for the world’s first broadcast voluntary incentive spectrum auction. In layman’s terms, the FCC is setting up the framework for TV broadcasters to give up their spectrum rights – if they so choose – to the FCC, which will then auction that back to wireless providers. CEA advocated for many of the key provisions which were included in the final order, such as:

- Paired 5 MHz blocks
- Accommodations for variation in the amount of spectrum recovered in different geographic areas.
- Technically reasonable guard bands which are available for unlicensed us
- “Flexible use” service rules
- The methodology used in the FCC’s OET-69 bulletin, which will be used to determine the coverage area and population served of each station
- Television white-space device use of any unused television channels
- Wireless microphone use in the reorganized UHF band

Where We Stand

  • CEA applauds the bipartisan approach put forth by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) toward identifying new spectrum for unlicensed uses. The Wi-Fi Innovation Act, introduced on June 20, seeks to expand unlicensed spectrum use by requiring the FCC to test the feasibility of opening the upper 5 GHz band to unlicensed use.
  • CEA commends Senator Rubio for advancing a 21st-century spectrum policy with the introduction of the Wireless Innovation Act. The legislation, introduced on June 12, would incentivize the reallocation of government spectrum for commercial use and establish an auction pipeline with deadlines.
  • On April 1, the House Energy and Commerce Committee published “Modernizing U.S. Spectrum Policy,” the second in a series of white papers requesting comment on updates to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. CEA responded on April 25 with several recommendations, including: (1) the need to ensure that unlicensed spectrum is a part of any future spectrum plans; (2) that Federal users have incentives to relinquish spectrum; (3) that more spectrum must be made available for commercial use; (4) operating rules should allow for flexible use, while protecting incumbent users; (5) harm claim thresholds strike an appropriate balance between flexibility, innovation, and interference protection; and (6) effective management of spectrum assignment and use is critical.
  • CEA provided comments on March 20 to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in support of relinquishment, noting that the use of appropriate incentives—which should go beyond mere cost recovery—is essential to freeing up spectrum for exclusive commercial use. We also stated that spectrum sharing may be appropriate where spectrum cannot be cleared for exclusive use.
  • CEA supports policies which aim to obtain additional spectrum for wireless broadband and other services. In February, the FCC sought comment on proposals for shared access to 3.5 GHz spectrum and hosted a technical workshop. Action in the 3.5 GHz band will serve as a test bed for innovative spectrum access system technologies. CEA applauds the FCC for prioritizing this timely and important initiative.
  • For a list of our FCC Comment Submissions click here.
Unlicensed spectrum fuels the hundreds of devices we use every day. If it weren't available, we would lose access to a whole future of innovation and invention.
If it weren't for spectrum, our tech would be stuck in the 80s. It's the fuel for innovation, but the DeLorean is running out of gas.
As consumers continue to turn to other devices and services for TV programming, it’s clear that the free, public spectrum given to broadcasters could be put to better use.