Senate Passes IoT Strategy Bill

The Senate has unanimously passed the Developing and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act, which would try and get government and industry on the same page on a national strategy for promoting IoT. 

The bill has been introduced and reintroduced over the past several years, but finally made it across the finish line, at least in the Senate.  

Related: DIGIT Act Reintroduced

The bill, whose key backers include 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 initially introduced in the wake of a resolution that passed the Senate calling for a national strategy on IoT. 

The bill, which must still be passed in the House and signed by the President if it is to become law, 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 the end of this year 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. 

Related: IoT Spectrum Bill Introduced

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. 

“CCA commends the Senate, especially Senators Fischer, Schatz, Gardner, and Booker for passing the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act and for recognizing the significant positive impact that IoT and next-generation technologies will have on consumers, industry, and the economy as a whole," said Competitive Carriers Association president Steven K. Berry. "Rural areas are particularly well-suited to utilize and benefit from IoT technologies – from telehealth services to precision agriculture. Sound policies like the DIGIT Act are essential to ensuring all Americans, no matter where they live, work, or travel, can access these life-changing innovations, and CCA looks forward to working with the House to move this legislation forward.” 

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.