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Increasing Spectrum & Mobile Broadband Access


Vice President, Regulatory Affairs

Vice President, Government and Political Affairs

Sr. Manager and Regulatory Counsel


CEA believes that in the 21st century economy, spectrum is the oxygen of innovation. We strongly support legislative efforts to authorize the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions in order to secure 500 MHz of additional spectrum for broadband services and address our looming spectrum shortfall. More, CEA believes that any additional spectrum should be available for both licensed and unlicensed use. 

  • July 17, 2014  CEA issued a statement regarding the introduction of the Wi-Fi Innovation Act (H.R. 5125). Sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R, CA-49), Anna Eshoo (D, CA-18), Bob Latta (R, OH-5), and Doris Matsui (D, CA-6), the bipartisan bill directs the FCC to conduct spectrum-sharing tests within the 5 GHz band, which will help improve our nation’s spectrum efficiency. The bill also recognizes that unlicensed spectrum is critical to vehicle safety applications and intelligent transportation initiatives, proof that the sponsors understand we must have enough unlicensed spectrum available to fuel our increasingly interconnected world. 
  • June 16, 2014 – Unlicensed spectrum – the radio spectrum that allows entrepreneurs to harness a communications medium in order to connect people and devices wirelessly – generates $62 billion a year for the U.S. economy, according to a new report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The report, Unlicensed Spectrum and the American Economy, examines the economic impact of unlicensed spectrum based on a device’s incremental retail sale value, a metric that takes into account only the fraction of the sales price attributable to unlicensed spectrum.
  • June 2014  – On June 12, CEA applauded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for introducing the Wireless Innovation Act (S. 2473). The legislation is a forward-looking approach that will help to ensure that our commercial spectrum supply can meet consumer demand by reallocating government spectrum for commercial use, establishing an auction pipeline with deadlines, and incentivizing federal agencies to reallocate spectrum.

    Rubio, along with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), also introduced the Wi-Fi Innovation Act (S. 2505) on June 19. CEA commended the bipartisan approach toward identifying new spectrum for unlicensed uses through the study initiated by this legislation.
  • April 25, 2014 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a white paper seeking comments regarding spectrum issues as they pertain to updating the Communications Act.  CEA responded on April 25 with several recommendations, including: (1) the need to ensure that unlicensed spectrum is a part of any future spectrum plans; (2) that Federal users have incentives to relinquish spectrum; (3) that more spectrum must be made available for commercial use; (4) operating rules should allow for flexible use, while protecting incumbent users; (5) harm claim thresholds strike an appropriate balance between flexibility, innovation, and interference protection; and (6) effective management of spectrum assignment and use is critical.

Voluntary Spectrum Auctions

CEA supports legislative efforts to authorize the FCC to conduct voluntary incentive auctions in order to secure 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband services. 

  • May 30, 2014: CEA joined with like-minded associations to urge the FCC to grant an interim waiver of its “former defaulter” rule. The rule states that any entity that has defaulted on a debt to the FCC or any other federal agency must pay 150 percent more in upfront payments if that entity wishes to participate in an auction. The scope of the rule is disproportionate to its intended purpose – an entity wishing to bid in an auction, like the forthcoming incentive auction, could be forced to finance millions of dollars more, up front, than other bidders, thus discouraging bidding. CEA supports a request by DIRECTV and EchoStar to grant an interim waiver and appropriately narrow the scope of the rule, which will help facilitate bidder participation in upcoming spectrum auctions.
  • May 15, 2014   The FCC approved an Order laying the ground rules for the broadcast incentive auction. This Order is the first in a series that will gradually flesh out the auction’s many moving parts. Many provisions of the Order, such as the allocation of guard bands for unlicensed spectrum use, were advocated by CEA. CEA will continue to be actively involved in these proceedings.


We believe that consumers should have the right to attach devices of their choice to broadband networks as well as have unfettered access to content. CEA believes that the government can most effectively address the net neutrality debate by reallocating spectrum for wireless broadband use. This reallocation would ensure rapid broadband deployment and a competitive, pro-consumer broadband marketplace.

  • September 16, 2014 – CEA’s own Julie Kearney, vice president, regulatory affairs, participated on a panel entitled “Policy Approaches to Ensure an Open Internet” hosted by the Federal Communications Commission. Kearney articulated CEA’s position that, while an open Internet is an important goal that CEA fully supports, regulators should be very cautious when trying to map existing statutory frameworks to the Internet.
  • July 15, 2014  CEA filed comments in response to an FCC inquiry in the wake of the Verizon v. FCC decision, which vacated some of its open Internet rules. Our comments explained that, while CEA supports an open Internet, regulation must be balanced against the need to preserve flexibility to innovate. Although CEA believes that no further regulation is necessary, CEA advises that if the FCC feels the need to strengthen its regulations, then it should go no further than the 2010 FCC rules. Additionally, we explained that the cost of imposing Title II-based rules would vastly outweigh their benefit.
  • May 15, 2014   The FCC approved a proposal to revise its open Internet rules, also known as net neutrality. The proposal asks many questions about how the FCC should proceed in light of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the Verizon v. FCC case, which invalidated key provisions of the old open Internet rules. CEA is evaluating the FCC’s proposal and is seeking member feedback.


CEA supported the release of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan in March 2010. Specifically, CEA commended the FCC’s goals regarding our nation’s spectrum crisis, competition in the marketplace for video devices and accessibility issues. CEA will continue to work closely with the FCC through the rulemaking process to ensure that the goals of the NBP are met.


In today’s fast- changing media landscape, the consumer electronics industry, policymakers and all other stakeholders share a common goal: to protect our children and help them to advance and thrive in today’s digital world. To that end, the CEA’s member companies have developed and continue to provide effective products and product features to help parents structure their children’s television experience. Video providers also offer a broad array of parental control tools. Interested parents can take advantage of this vibrant marketplace to find technological tools and services to tailor their children’s viewing experience to meet their family’s particular needs. Because a myriad of options for parents exist, CEA does not support government-mandated parental control technologies.


CEA has long-supported the ability of consumers to attach the device of their choice to their pay-TV service. In the Telecom Act of 1996, Congress included language to ensure the availability of competitive devices at retail so that consumers could buy a device and attach it to their pay-TV service. The CableCARD was envisioned as a bridge between CE devices and pay-TV services, but this solution has been met with many roadblocks by the cable industry. CEA supported FCC action to strengthen its CableCARD rules. Recognizing the lack of competition in the market for competitive devices, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan recommended that the FCC initiate a proceeding to ensure that a “gateway” device is installed by pay-TV (MVPD) providers in all new subscriber homes and all homes requiring replacement set-top boxes by the end of 2012. The NBP suggested that the gateway device should be simple and that its sole function should only be to “bridge the proprietary or unique elements of the MVPD network.” CEA supports the continued use of CableCARDs and movement toward a gateway device. We must achieve a level playing field for competitive devices.


For submissions prior to 2013 please contact