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FCC Launches IoT Spectrum Inquiry

A woman holding a smart phone while sitting on a sofa
(Image credit: Grace Cary/Getty Images)

The FCC is seeking comment on the spectrum needs of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The move was mandated by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

In 2015, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a family of four had an average of 10 IoT devices. By 2022 that figure is estimated to be 50 devices per family.

The bill required the FCC, in consultation with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, to issue a notice of inquiry for comment on the current and future spectrum needs of IoT.

Also Read: Bill would Mandate FCC IoT Spectrum Database

Per that legislation, 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.

The FCC has already taken a number of actions to free up spectrum for licensed and unlicensed wireless broadband, including various auctions of reclaimed and shared spectrum from other services — satellite and broadcasting among them.

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.