Only Congress can build a spectrum pipeline

By: Peter Davidson

Last week, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the “Wireless Innovation Act of 2015.” This important bill reflects the undeniable reality that we’re living in the middle of a mobile revolution. Forty-three percent of adults live in a household with a cell phone but no landline. CTIA recently reported that there are now more than 355 million total wireless subscribers, or 36 million more devices than Americans. That’s a wireless penetration rate of 110 percent. And mobile Internet usage also continues to surge, with CTIA noting that Americans used 4.1 trillion megabytes of data in 2014, a 26 percent increase over 2013.

The emerging Internet of Things – or perhaps more aptly called the Internet of Everything – will see billions more new devices connecting to the Internet, outnumbering all the smartphones and tablets combined. And what will make all of these devices fulfill their promise? Spectrum.

Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index

Taken together, these trends indicate the clear need for a robust spectrum pipeline to meet this soaring consumer demand for bandwidth. Though the FCC has managed to clear 135 MHz of spectrum since 2010, there is still a long way to go to reach the 2010 National Broadband Plan’s goal of bringing 500 MHz of spectrum to market by 2020.

In addition to facilitating the construction of the towers and networks to support consumers’ growing demand for mobile services, the Wireless Innovation Act requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to identify and reallocate 200 MHz of spectrum below 5 GHz that is held currently by the federal government.

The Wireless Innovation Act is a good start to many of the necessary reforms to ensure that enough spectrum will be cleared and repurposed to meet soaring consumers’ sky-rocketing demand for wireless services. Verizon looks forward to continued work with Congress and all affected stakeholders on establishing a spectrum pipeline for the continuing mobile revolution.

Peter Davidson is responsible for federal legislative affairs and global public policy at Verizon. Before joining the company, Davidson served as general counsel assisting the United States Trade Representative in negotiating and implementing trade agreements and supervising litigation at the World Trade Organization. Prior to becoming general counsel to the USTR in February 2001, Davidson was vice president for Congressional Affairs at Qwest, coordinating all federal legislative activities for that company.