FCC Releases NOI on IoT Spectrum Needs

On September 30, 2021, the FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comment on issues related to spectrum for the Internet of Things (“IoT”), which was adopted at the September Open Meeting.

The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (“NDAA” or “the Act”) requires the FCC to issue a NOI seeking comment on the current and future spectrum needs to enable better connectivity relating to IoT, including any regulatory barriers.  The FCC seeks comment on four broad topics, as required by the NDAA:

  1. Whether adequate spectrum is available, or is planned for allocation, for commercial wireless services that could support the growing IoT;
  2. If adequate spectrum is not available for the purposes described in subparagraph (A), how to ensure that adequate spectrum is available for increased demand with respect to the IoT;
  3. What regulatory barriers may exist to providing any needed spectrum that would support uses relating to the IoT; and
  4. What the role of unlicensed and licensed spectrum is and will be in the growth of the IoT.

In addition, the FCC seeks comment on:

  • Whether previously issued flexible-use licenses permit licensees to adopt technologies and offer services that could support connectivity to IoT devices in addition to traditional mobile connectivity
  • Whether the FCC should explore possibilities for IoT outside spectrum bands being considered for commercial wireless access
  • What role satellite communications can play in IoT and what their spectrum needs may be to support IoT
  • Whether there are FCC rules that could be modified to facilitate greater spectrum access so that individuals can deploy their own IoT networks using licensed spectrum
  • What role unlicensed devices have played in IoT and whether the spectrum available and rules governing these devices should be modified
  • What regulatory barriers may exist to deploying IoT
  • Whether there social and equitable benefits to the proposals contained in the Draft NOI that would help advance digital equity for all

Comments are due on or before November 1, 2021.

Reply Comments are due on or before November 16, 2021.

Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Commissioner Starks both issued separate statements supporting the item.

On September 9, 2021, the FCC released a Draft Notice of Inquiry (“Draft NOI”)  No substantial changes were made in the adopted version of the document. On September 13, 2021, the Office of Engineering and Technology opened ET Docket 21-353, captioned “Spectrum Requirements for the Internet of Things,” through this Public Notice

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