FCC Approves IoT Spectrum Inquiry

A man using his phone while watching TV
(Image credit: Maskot via Getty Images)

The FCC has approved a notice of inquiry into the future spectrum needs of the Internet of Things. The move was mandated by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

That came in a vote in advance of the FCC's public meeting Thursday (Sept. 30), so the item was dropped from the agenda.

IoT is likely to be seriously needy if current projections are any indication.

According to infrastructure management company vXchange, there are going to be 41 billion IoT devices by 2027, 70% of cars will be connected by 2023, and every second another 127 devices hook up to the net.

The FCC is asking whether there is enough spectrum to support commercial wireless services and, if not, how to make sure there is enough to meet increased demand, including what regulatory barriers may be standing in the way. It also wants to know what role licensed versus unlicensed spectrum is and will be in the IoT ecosystem.

The FCC has to report back to Congress — specifically the Senate Commerce and House Energy & Commerce Committees — within a year of enactment of the bill, which became law Jan. 1, 2021, with a summary of those comments.

Also Read: Bill Would Mandate FCC IoT Spectrum Database

“The Notice of Inquiry adopted on spectrum needs of the Internet of Things further focuses the important conversation about the inputs needed to support and enhance consumer access to this growing area of next-generation connectivity," said NCA-The Internet & Television Association. "We appreciate the Commission’s continued recognition of the importance of unlicensed spectrum for next-generation networking, including for IoT... "As demand for connected devices grows in a myriad of use cases, unlicensed and shared spectrum will play an increasingly important role in meeting those needs. We look forward to continued engagement on spectrum inputs for next-gen networking.”

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.