Congress passes bill opening up TV spectrum to next-gen WiFi networks

It may seem a bit odd to see tech industry groups like the CTIA and CEA praising the passage of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 by Congress, but that rather mundane-sounding bill has provisions attached to it that both groups and others have been pushing for years to happen. In an effort to cover the cost of the payroll tax extension, the bill also sets aside a large block of so-called unlicensed spectrum for auction, which is expected to bring in upwards of $25 billion. That spectrum had previously been used for TV broadcast use, but is now being eyed by various parties for next-generation WiFi networks, which could cover greater distances and potentially be used to bolster existing wireless networks. As part of the bill, Congress has also set aside a slice of spectrum that will be used as part of a nationwide network for public safety agencies. As The New York Times notes, however, it will see be quite a while before anything trickles down to consumers, with the auctions themselves at least a year or two away. The CEA and CTIA's statements can be found after the break.

[Tower photo via Shutterstock]

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CTIA Statement on the Passage of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Please attribute the following statement to CTIA-The Wireless Association® President and CEO Steve Largent:

"For more than three years, CTIA and its members have been advocating for more spectrum so America's wireless industry can remain the world's leader in the deployment of advanced wireless services. Today's bipartisan vote to pass the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, which includes provisions to make a substantial swath of spectrum available for commercial use, represents an important step toward meeting the industry's spectrum needs.

"We are grateful to Representatives Upton, Walden, Waxman and Eshoo and Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison for their leadership throughout this process. Their dedication and focus were paramount to securing the bipartisan and bicameral support necessary to enact spectrum reform. We also appreciate FCC Chairman Genachowski and the FCC commissioners for their contribution to this effort.

"Ultimately, today's vote was a resounding victory for consumers and the American economy. Making spectrum available will make it possible for America's wireless carriers to offer consumers better, faster, more ubiquitous wireless broadband service. The release of additional spectrum also will spur the investment and job creation that our economy needs."

CTIA-The Wireless Association® ( ) is an international organization representing the wireless communications industry. Membership in the association includes wireless carriers and their suppliers, as well as providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products. CTIA advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government. The association also coordinates the industry's voluntary best practices and initiatives, and sponsors the industry's leading wireless tradeshows. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C.

SOURCE CTIA-The Wireless Association

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

CEA Hails Congress for Expanding Spectrum Needed for Innovation

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb 17, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)(R) today congratulates Congress for passing legislation that includes language authorizing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to hold voluntary incentive spectrum auctions.

"Congress has taken a momentous step in advancing our nation's ability to innovate, create jobs of the future and meet the burgeoning needs of 21st century wireless networks," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "These auctions will bring sorely needed revenue to the U.S. Treasury while handsomely rewarding broadcasters who choose to participate. Most important, this will help ensure our wireless broadband products have more usable spectrum and thus will increase the likelihood that the U.S. will remain the global leader of the Internet economy. We eagerly await the president signing this bill into law and working with the FCC on the rules surrounding the auctions."

About CEA:

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $195 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES -- The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA's industry services. Find CEA online at , and through social media; #!/CEAfeed, , .