Last week, the office of Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel released a draft Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding spectrum availability and requirements to support the growth of Internet of Things (IoT).  The FCC will consider this NOI, which is intended to collect information and does not propose rules, in its next Open Commission Meeting scheduled for September 30, 2021. This proposed NOI is the latest in a series of FCC actions that will affect the future deployment of IoT products and services in the United States.

Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, the FCC is required to issue this NOI to seek comment on “current and future spectrum needs to enable better connectivity relating to the Internet of Things (IoT).”  As a part of its inquiry, the FCC would seek comment on:

  • whether the licensed spectrum that is available, or is planned for allocation, for commercial wireless services is adequate to support the needs of IoT;
  • how to ensure adequate spectrum is available outside of the bands being considered for commercial wireless access, including alternative bands that may be suitable for IoT;
  • whether spectrum sharing that is not possible for other types of commercial wireless networks could serve IoT deployment;
  • the role and spectrum requirements needed for IoT applications and services provided by satellites;
  • what regulatory barriers may exist to providing needed spectrum access for IoT deployment, including buildout requirements for IoT networks, license areas, and license terms;
  • the role of unlicensed devices in the growth of IoT and whether there is adequate spectrum available for such operations; and
  • how the topics covered in the NOI may promote or inhibit advances in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

This proceeding will join other open proceedings where the FCC is considering new policies and rules to promote and regulate IoT products and services.  As we covered previously, the FCC in June sought comment on whether it should encourage manufacturers of IoT devices to follow the guidance of the NIST’s IoT Report as a standard.  Additionally, the FCC in July adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would expand the permissible uses for short-range radars in the 57 to 64 GHz band.  As the FCC explained in its accompanying News Release, the rules could support a wide range of IoT applications, including “Internet of Things technologies for in-home automation services like environmental control and smart home appliances” as well as “enterprise solutions like factory automation.”

If adopted at the September meeting (as is expected), comments on the NOI will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 45 days after publication.

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Photo of Jennifer Johnson Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is a partner specializing in communications, media and technology matters who serves as co-chair of Covington’s global and multi-disciplinary Internet of Things (IoT) group. She represents and advises content distributors, broadcast companies, trade associations, and other media and technology entities on…

Jennifer Johnson is a partner specializing in communications, media and technology matters who serves as co-chair of Covington’s global and multi-disciplinary Internet of Things (IoT) group. She represents and advises content distributors, broadcast companies, trade associations, and other media and technology entities on a wide range of issues. Jennifer has more than two decades of experience advising clients in the communications, media and technology sectors, and has served as a co-chair for these practices for more than 15 years. On IoT issues, she collaborates with Covington’s global, multi-disciplinary team to assist companies navigating the complex statutory and regulatory constructs surrounding this evolving area, including legal issues with respect to connected and autonomous vehicles, internet connected devices, smart ecosystems, and other IoT products and services.

Jennifer assists clients in developing and pursuing strategic business and policy objectives before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress and through transactions and other business arrangements. She regularly advises clients on FCC regulatory matters and advocates frequently before the FCC. Jennifer has extensive experience negotiating content acquisition and distribution agreements for media and technology companies, including program distribution agreements with cable, satellite, and telco companies, network affiliation and other program rights agreements for television companies, and agreements providing for the aggregation and distribution of content on over-the-top app-based platforms. She also assists investment clients in structuring, evaluating, and pursuing potential investments in media and technology companies.

Photo of Matthew DelNero Matthew DelNero

Matt DelNero works with companies in the telecommunications, technology and media sectors—advising them in policy development, regulatory compliance, and commercial transactions, among other settings.

Andrew Longhi

Andrew Longhi is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Communications and Media Practice Groups. Andrew advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including compliance obligations, commercial transactions…

Andrew Longhi is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Communications and Media Practice Groups. Andrew advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including compliance obligations, commercial transactions involving personal information and cybersecurity risk, and responses to regulatory inquiries. Andrew is Admitted to the Bar under DC App. R. 46-A (Emergency Examination Waiver); Practice Supervised by DC Bar members.