Senator Schatz Introduces Legislation To Promote Unlicensed Spectrum

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Ranking Member of the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee, introduced the Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum Act, legislation that would ensure our national spectrum pipeline strategy includes a thoughtful approach to unlicensed spectrum.

“As unlicensed spectrum usage continues to grow, our national spectrum policy should reflect the critical role it plays in innovation and our economy,” said Senator Schatz.  “My legislation will make sure we develop an aggressive plan to ensure that unlicensed spectrum will be available in the future, giving consumers more options and providing innovators with the foundation to develop new ideas and products.”

As the Commerce Committee considers a strategy to expand a spectrum pipeline for the future, it is critical to ensure unlicensed spectrum is a central piece of our overall strategy. The Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum Act calls for the creation of a National Unlicensed Spectrum Strategy and requires the Federal Communications Commission to establish a process that will ensure that future spectrum allocation and assignment actions produce a balance between licensed and unlicensed bands.

Evan Engstrom, Policy Director of Engine, a non-profit technology research and policy coalition, said, “Unlicensed spectrum represents an investment in the future—something that innovators can capitalize on to create tomorrow's new technologies.  By some estimates, the economic value of unlicensed spectrum exceeds $140 billion. As startups and entrepreneurs build and develop the next generation of Internet applications, wireless devices, and innovative services, they depend on access to these unlicensed airwaves. The Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum Act of 2015 would ensure that unlicensed spectrum is central to any future spectrum strategy, and we welcome the bill's introduction.”