October 22, 2021

WASHINGTON – Global tech trade association ITI urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to oppose regulatory fees for unlicensed spectrum use in comments submitted to the agency on October 21. In its submission, ITI underscored the innovation and economic benefits unlicensed spectrum supports and warned additional costs to users could limit access to the internet, stifle economic growth, and threaten the technology industry’s global competitiveness and leadership.

“Unlicensed spectrum use has unlocked innovation and economic benefits at a staggering scale, with some estimates of the global value of Wi-Fi alone reaching well beyond $3 trillion in 2021,” ITI wrote in its comments. “The FCC’s current system of addressing unlicensed spectrum use has worked incredibly well over the past few decades to spur innovation and usher in the digital era. This system, with its low barriers to entry, helps ensure that consumers have access to an array of innovative products and services because many devices use unlicensed spectrum precisely to keep costs low for business and consumer users. Injecting new fees into this process would disrupt the marketplace and dampen innovation.”

ITI noted that identifying a single consumer, business, or government entity that does not use equipment connected through unlicensed spectrum frequencies – or that does not otherwise benefit from internet infrastructure – would be nearly impossible. Further, narrowing the meaning of technology companies and unlicensed spectrum users in a meaningful way to make the assessment and collection of fees more manageable would lead to arbitrary, and potentially discriminatory, decisions about who pays and who does not. Read ITI’s full comments here.

ITI reiterated these comments in a joint letter to the FCC signed by 15 trade associations, including National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Consumer Technology Association, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers. 

“The proposal to increase fees on consumers contradicts the [FCC’s] strong efforts to increase connectivity, close the digital divide, and promote universal service through various programs and initiatives,” the associations wrote. “Any measure that might restrict or discourage consumer access to connectivity would also directly contradict broader U.S. Government-wide digital inclusion priorities, which have had widespread, bipartisan support across multiple administrations and in Congress. To impose fees on consumer devices or industrial equipment which have increased access to the digital economy for consumers, expanded markets for small businesses, and improved safety and productivity outcomes for manufacturers would seem to ignore the incredible successes that have resulted from the current FCC approach and the stated priorities of policymakers.”

Read the letter here.

Public Policy Tags: Broadband, Communications, & Spectrum