Even WiFi is Political

FCC Commissioners

As you know, the velocity of data is increasing and will always increase. There is no version of tomorrow where we create or use less data than we are using today. The FCC knows this and, on November 20, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that the commission is seeking public comment on his proposal to take what he characterizes as “underutilized spectrum” away from the auto industry — specifically, spectrum allocated for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DRSC) — and reallocate it for unlicensed WiFi use.

That sounds reasonable. Except… everyone who has any understanding of the world of spectrum allocation knows that big cable and big telecom have been lobbying for this for years. It is a giant win for them.

You may counter that “more WiFis and GBs” is great for consumers, and that the auto industry has done nothing with DRSC for 20 years. You could also argue that the chairman’s proposal also includes an allocation for new C-V2X (cellular vehicle to everything) technology that provides high bandwidth, low latency services for motor vehicle automation and safety.

Or, you could jump into the remarkable political arguments that have my inbox overflowing for the past 24 hours. Here’s an idea. Let’s look at the spectrum allocation suggested by the FCC on its merits. Wireless infrastructure is a fundamental building block for productivity and innovation. It needs to be awesome, not politicized. If you have a point of view, make a public comment. Lobby. Get involved. Be part of the process. Sending me emails about the commission’s political motivations is not helpful.

In a perfect world, there would not be an FCC; rather, there would be a very technical committee in Congress, and they would pass laws. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We have an FCC, and they make the telecommunications rules. I know this is a particularly partisan time, but WiFi is not a partisan issue. We all use it, and we all need it. Please leave your red and blue hats at home, and bring your engineering hats to this discussion.


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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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