Bill Directs FCC to Study IoT Spectrum Needs

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would direct the FCC to identify the spectrum requirements for the growing Internet of things (IoT) and study the impacts of connected technologies.

The Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act follows up on a resolution that passed the Senate last March that called for a national strategy on IoT.

The bill estimates that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020 generating billions in economic opportunity.

It directs the Secretary of Commerce to convene a working group of federal stakeholders to advise Congress on how to plan and encourage IoT, including spectrum needs and the appropriate regulatory environment for things like consumer protection, privacy and security.

The working group will have to consult with industry stakeholders.

The FCC, in consultation with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, will have to conduct a study to evaluate what spectrum will be necessary to accommodate that explosion in connected devices, including whether there is adequate licensed and unlicensed spectrum available, what role each plans in the growth of IoT and what regulatory "barriers" exist.

The timeline for action is:

The working group will have to submit to the relevant committees a report on its findings and recommendations; the FCC will have to submit a report on its findings and recommendations related to its findings.

Introducing the bill were Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.