The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest convention of the year in Las Vegas. The organizers estimate that close to 160,000 people will visit the show this week. Attendees come from all over the world to see the latest smartphones, in-vehicle technology, gaming innovations, and home appliances to name just a few. Every square inch of the convention center is packed with new technology – even the parking lots are tented over. But it is what you don’t see here that is really the secret to all these technology advances: the wireless telecommunications infrastructure that differentiates many of these innovations.
Wireless technology is what allows the navigation systems being showcased in many of the vehicles at CES to work. It is how smartphones can show you the latest movies in the palm of your hand. It is what powers the connected homes that give all of us the ability to reduce our energy consumption. Wireless technology is not only what we want for our electronic s, it is frankly what we need.
This need for wireless technology and services is also putting stress on the airwaves – known as spectrum – on which the information travels. Spectrum is a finite resource and users of it are working hard to develop more innovative and efficient ways to use it. But the users can only do so much. The government plays a major role. The agency that regulates the use of spectrum is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and it has been directed by Congress to repurpose and auction unused or underutilized spectrum. How the FCC handles these auctions could have a major impact on all manufacturers.
The NAM has repeatedly communicated to the FCC the importance of wireless technology to manufacturers. Our member companies use it to communicate with their employees, manage supply chains, and connect with their customers. We have therefore stressed to the FCC that it cannot pick winners and losers when setting up the rules of the road for these auctions. The process should be open to all and no conditions should be placed on the participants. This will ensure the market drives the next wireless innovations and the regulatory process does not unnecessarily slow it down.