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Rubio, Booker Introduce Legislation To Expand Unlicensed Spectrum Use

Feb 10, 2015 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today reintroduced S. 424, the Wi-Fi Innovation Act, legislation to expand unlicensed spectrum use by requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test the feasibility of opening the upper 5 GHz band to unlicensed use.

At a time when demand for spectrum is drastically increasing, the legislation aims to provide more of this valuable resource to the public to bolster innovation, spur economic development, and increase connectivity.

“America’s policies must adapt to the colossal technological advancements that are defining the 21st century and transforming the very nature of the American economy,” said Rubio. “The Wi-Fi Innovation Act would bolster innovation, spur economic development, and increase connectivity by providing more spectrum to the public.

“Spectrum is a valuable yet limited resource that must be utilized effectively and efficiently. By requiring the FCC to conduct testing that would provide more spectrum to the public, we are ultimately putting the resource to better use and recognizing the future needs and important work being done in intelligent transportation,” added Rubio. “I am pleased to join Senator Booker in this effort as we work together to foster the innovation and economic growth needed to make this century another American century.”

“Access to wireless spectrum opens the door for innovation and transformative new technologies,” said Senator Booker. “It can help bridge the digital divide that leaves too many low-income communities removed from the evolving technology landscape. There is a clear and growing demand to open up more of this valuable resource and our legislation aims to do exactly that.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), and cosponsored by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA).

The Wi-Fi Innovation Act:

  • Directs the FCC to move swiftly in seeking comments and conducting testing to assess the feasibility of opening the 5850-5925 band to unlicensed use.

  • Recognizes the need to balance the importance of developing Intelligent Transportation and incumbent licensees in the 5 GHz band, while also maximizing the use of the band for shared purposes.

  • Establishes a study to examine Wi-Fi deployment in low-income communities and the barriers preventing deployment of wireless networks in low-income neighborhoods. The FCC will also evaluate incentives and policies that could increase the availability of unlicensed spectrum in low-income neighborhoods to increase adoption in the communities.