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Rubio, Booker Introduce Legislation To Expand Unlicensed Spectrum Use

Jun 20, 2014 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced S. 2505, 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.

“In a century defined by drastic and colossal technological advancement, it is hard going even a day without using our cell phones, tablets and other wireless devices,” said Rubio. “Access to mobile broadband enhances our daily lives, facilitating quality work and timely communication. But our wireless devices rely on spectrum, a valuable and limited resource.

“To meet the demands of our time, action must be taken to ensure spectrum is utilized effectively and efficiently,” added Rubio. “This bill requires the FCC to conduct testing that would provide more spectrum to the public and ultimately put the resource to better use, while recognizing the future needs and important work being done in intelligent transportation. I am pleased that Senator Booker has joined me in this effort to foster the innovation and economic growth needed to make this century another American century.”

“There is a clear and growing demand for increased availability of spectrum,” said Booker. “Senator Rubio and I came together on this legislation because we want to see this valuable resource made available for further use by the public. Not only does access to wireless broadband open the door for innovation and transformative new technologies, it helps bridge the digital divide that leaves too many low-income communities removed from the evolving technology landscape and the growing economic opportunities. Our bill also authorizes an important study of Wi-Fi deployment in low income communities and the barriers preventing deployment of wireless broadband in those neighborhoods.”

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.