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May 2019

Latta, Eshoo, Issa, Matsui, DelBene Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Wi-Fi Innovation Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), Vice Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, along with Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA),  recently reintroduced the Wi-Fi Innovation Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that addresses growing spectrum demand by examining ways to improve spectrum efficiency and maximize its use.

“As more and more technologies utilize Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, the need for increased wireless spectrum grows,” Latta said. “The Wi-Fi Innovation Act examines ways to maximize spectrum use by efficiently expanding the deployment of wireless networks and services, so everyone can benefit from next-generation technologies. Utilizing unlicensed spectrum remains a critical component of promoting economic development and increased connectivity across the country, and the Wi-Fi Innovation Act would help bridge the digital divide.”

“Spectrum is a driver of economic opportunity in our country, serving as the invisible backbone of our digital age and turning our smart devices into connected tools for education, commerce and safety,” Eshoo said. “But we’ve only scratched the surface in optimizing this finite resource. To fully realize its potential, the bipartisan, bicameral Wi-Fi Innovation Act directs the FCC to study how spectrum can be shared and utilized in innovative ways. From offloading mobile data traffic onto Wi-Fi networks to using unlicensed spectrum as a digital sandbox for wireless R&D, the economic benefits are enormous and the technological discovery untold.”

“From personal communication to transportation, healthcare and beyond, wireless technologies are changing and improving our lives,” Issa said. “The Wi-Fi Innovation Act will make available the spectrum necessary to support the best new inventions and the jobs and prosperity these new discoveries will foster.”

“Wi-Fi is already an integral part of our everyday lives; we must meet current demand and put in place a plan to meet growing needs,” Matsui said. “The Wi-Fi Innovation Act will require the FCC to develop and adopt a testing process to evaluate the feasibility  of sharing in the 5GHz band. It is my hope that the FCC will use this opportunity to bring in the automotive and technology engineers to produce hard data – without interference – that can be relied upon during decision-making on the future of the 5GHz band. It is our responsibility to ensure that the U.S. continues to be the center for technology and innovation, and spectrum will be necessary to achieve this.”

“If we want the Internet to continue to thrive the FCC needs to keep up with the growing demand for wireless spectrum capacity,” DelBene said. “Our bill takes a step in the right direction while also helping to bridge the digital divide that some low-income and rural communities face because of unreliable access to wireless networks.”

The Wi-Fi Innovation Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct tests within the 5 GHz spectrum band to determine if spectrum can be shared without interfering with current users. The bill also acknowledges ongoing efforts related to the development of critical safety applications in vehicles and other intelligent transportation initiatives and creates a study to examine the barriers to Wi-Fi deployment in low-income areas.

Similar legislation was also introduced recently in the U.S. Senate by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

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