Marco Rubio, Cory Booker file FCC Wi-Fi Innovation Act

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U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Cory Booker introduced the bipartisan Wi-Fi Innovation Act on Thursday, a bill seeking to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider the possibility of opening the upper 5 GHz wireless broadband for general use.

Consumer demand for the additional spectrum has skyrocketed, and the legislation would provide more of the wireless spectrum — currently used by the federal government — to the public, as a way to bolster innovation, economic development, and increase connectivity between users.

“In a century defined by drastic and colossal technological advancement, it is hard going even a day without using our cell phones, tablets and other wireless devices,” Rubio said in a statement. “Access to mobile broadband enhances our daily lives, facilitating quality work and timely communication”

Rubio said the bill will requires the FCC to conduct testing for the possibility of opening more spectrum to the public, something that the Florida Senator feels would put the valuable resource to better use.

“There is a clear and growing demand for increased availability of spectrum,” Booker added. “Not only does access to wireless broadband open the door for innovation and transformative new technologies, it helps bridge the digital divide that leaves too many low-income communities removed from the evolving technology landscape and the growing economic opportunities.

“Our bill also authorizes an important study of Wi-Fi deployment in low income communities and the barriers preventing deployment of wireless broadband in those neighborhoods.”

If passed, the Act would also examine Wi-Fi deployment in low-income communities and look for ways to lift barriers preventing deployment of wireless networks in low-income neighborhoods.

The bill would resolve an ugly traffic jam between the FCC and the Department of Transportation (DoT) that is needlessly delaying the next generation of Wi-Fi technology,” said Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at the consumer technology advocate Public Knowledge.  “This bill provides a road map for agencies to move forward that respects both the need for wireless capacity for safer “smart cars” and the need for more open spectrum for the ‘internet of things.’ 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.