Today Public Knowledge celebrates the first World Wi-Fi Day and the pioneering spectrum management policies that make this technology possible. World Wi-Fi Day is an international initiative organized by the Wireless Broadband Alliance under the leadership of the Connected City Advisory Board to help bridge the digital divide by using Wi-Fi technology to connect the unconnected. The day serves as a reminder that an estimated four billion people worldwide currently don’t have access to the internet and the benefits that connectivity can provide. These include not only economic benefits but the educational, employment, and social opportunities that connection can bring to individuals around the world.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced the closing results of the broadcast incentive auction. This first-in-the-world incentive auction allowed telecommunications providers to bid on spectrum licenses owned by broadcasters. Broadcasters voluntarily participated to relinquish airwaves for mobile use in exchange for a portion of the winning bids.
Currently, the auto industry plans to use the spectrum for “Dedicated Short Range Communication” (DSRC), a device that talks to every other car with a DSRC unit (also referred to as “vehicle-2-vehicle” or “v2v” communication). According to auto companies, they can’t share the swath of spectrum given to them in the 5.9 GHz band, because it would endanger consumers. That simply is not the case.
Today, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve the MOBILE NOW Act (S. 2555) with amendments for consideration by the full Senate. This bill, introduced by Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), would increase the development of next-generation 5G wireless broadband by freeing up more spectrum for both commercial licensed and unlicensed use and improving broadband infrastructure deployment.
As Public Knowledge has often noted, unlicensed spectrum is a key component of the mobile broadband ecosystem. Unlicensed spectrum enables our increasingly Wi-Fi dependent world, and is a “public commons” of sorts for innovators because these frequencies are open for any person and any device to use, for any (legal) purpose. Unlicensed spectrum bands are the innovation bands.