Press Releases

DelBene and Katko Introduce “Internet of Things” Legislation to Determine if Spectrum Supply Meets Future Demands

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Washington, D.C., July 17, 2019 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Congressman John Katko (R-NY) introduced the Internet of Things (IoT) Readiness Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide Congress with the data it needs in order to be prepared for the continued growth of IoT devices, and devices that use 5G mobile networks. 

Whether it be a fitness watch or sensors to monitor traffic, IoT devices require enough spectrum so data, such as time, location, or temperature, can be transmitted to and from other devices. Spectrum is a finite resource, and if the available spectrum cannot accommodate the devices in the same vicinity, the signals will interfere with each other and cause them to fail. After the introduction of smartphones, the number of devices that could access the internet increased dramatically. Cellular networks became overwhelmed, and the FCC had to go through the lengthy and burdensome process of reallocating spectrum. Today, IoT devices are facing the same problem. In 2015, a family of four had an average of 10 IoT devices connected to the internet. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that that average will increase to 50 devices per family by 2022.

“The explosion in the use of IoT devices by both consumers and businesses means we must have enough spectrum available to accommodate all of these devices. This bipartisan legislation would require the FCC to determine whether current spectrum supply meets the demand of IoT devices, and if there is anticipated IoT growth, how much spectrum is necessary to meet the demands of the future. As co-chair of the Internet of Things Caucus, I believe it is time for the FCC to include Congress in the spectrum planning conversation. The United States can’t afford to wait around while other countries are implementing IoT readiness plans. The time for action is now,” said Congresswoman DelBene.

“American consumers are growing increasingly connected to the internet through innovative devices including security systems, home appliances, and vehicles,” said Congressman John Katko. “Our nation’s networks must be prepared to handle advanced levels of usage as household connectivity demand expands. The Internet of Things Readiness Act enables the Federal Communications Commission to study the amount of spectrum required to satisfy current and future consumer demand. As co-chair of the Internet of Things Caucus, I am proud to introduce this legislation and lead this initiative with my co-chair, Congresswoman DelBene.”

In 2014, the FCC’s own Technical Advisory Council (TAC) advised the FCC to implement a plan that would ensure adequate spectrum is available and monitor the growth of IoT devices. FCC officials stated that when it comes to tracking spectrum demand that it “does not focus on specific devices,” rather the FCC will issue new spectrum when it is needed. Without adequate data, IoT devices risk not having access to spectrum. 

Other countries with similar IoT growth to the United States, are implementing proactive spectrum plans that focus on how to manage increased IoT usage. Korea plans to double its available spectrum by 2026, to support future innovations such as smart homes, smart factories, smart cities, and unmanned vehicles. France and the Netherlands are requiring there be enough spectrum available for the anticipated increase in smart city IoT device applications that operate solely on unlicensed spectrum.

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