DIGIT Act Reintroduced

The bipartisan congressional Internet of Things working group comprising Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has reintroduced the Developing and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act.

The bill was introduced in the last Congress, following up on a resolution that passed the Senate last March that called for a national strategy on IoT.

The bill would "convene a working group of federal entities that would consult with private sector stakeholders to provide recommendations to Congress." Those would include how to encourage the growth of IoT, seeking input from the private sector to help prevent "regulatory silos."

It would also direct the FCC to launch a proceeding on the spectrum needs of IoT.

Congress has estimated that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020 generating billions of dollars in economic opportunity.

The bill 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 adequate licensed and unlicensed spectrum is available, what role each agency should play in the growth of IoT and what regulatory "barriers" exist.

Daniel Castro, director of the Center for Data Innovation, said the bill puts the country on track to be a global IoT leader.

"By bringing together a broad cross-section of stakeholders in government and industry to shape a national strategy for the Internet of Things, the bipartisan DIGIT Act would put the United States on track to secure the enormous potential benefits this technology has to offer for both the private sector and the public," Castro said. "To make the United States more competitive and seize on all the opportunities from the Internet of Things, this working group should focus broadly on all challenges and opportunities the technology presents."

Competitive Carriers Association president/CEO Steven K. Berry said: “I thank Senators Fischer, Booker, Gardner and Schatz for the bipartisan reintroduction of the DIGIT Act. IoT already plays a major role in the mobile industry, and demand – by consumers and businesses – for these unique services will only continue to increase.  Competitive carriers must have access to 5G technologies to ensure their customers have access to IoT services and to effectively compete with the largest national carriers.”

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.