Expanding The Unlicensed Economy: Why More Unlicensed Spectrum Access Is Key to Affordable Wireless Connectivity


Wi-Fi has proven to be the workhorse of broadband Internet access, carrying 60 to 80 percent of mobile device data traffic, as well as the backbone of America’s growing cloud economy. Surging wireless data traffic from streaming video, the Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality applications will increase congestion in existing unlicensed bands and drive the demand for more low-, mid- and high-band frequencies that allow Wi-Fi, rural broadband and unlicensed innovation to flourish.

In anticipation of this demand, stakeholders are urging the FCC to move quickly to allocate more unlicensed spectrum in the low frequencies so critical for coverage (TV White Spaces); in mid-band spectrum critical for gigabit Wi-Fi and high-capacity “wireless fiber” (the 3 and 6 GHz bands); and in high-frequency, millimeter wave bands (e.g., 60 GHz). 

Continuing the current trend toward ubiquitous, fast and affordable connectivity in a ‘5G’ world will depend on this expanded and diverse ecosystem of open and shared spectrum access. Like licensed bands used by cellular operators, existing unlicensed spectrum suitable for high-capacity Wi-Fi and fixed wireless home broadband connections are congested or underutilized.

Our panelists include social media, rural broadband and cloud service companies. In addition, Edgar Figueroa will present the Wi-Fi Alliance study projecting the need for more unlicensed access. 

Please join Microsoft and New America’s Wireless Future Project for this luncheon and panel discussion about the role and value of a diverse unlicensed ecosystem – and what it means for consumers, emerging technologies, and service providers. 

Lunch will be served.


Edgar Figueroa
President & CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance 

Paula Boyd
Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Microsoft 

Mark Radabaugh
FCC Committee Chair, WISPA, and Director, Amplex 

Kalpak Gude 
President, Dynamic Spectrum Alliance 

Alan Norman 
Public Policy Director, Facebook 


Michael Calabrese
Director, Wireless Future Project, Open Technology Institute

Follow the discussion online using #UnlicensedEconomy and by following @MicrosoftIPC and @OTI.

This event has been planned to comply with the requirements of the Legislative Branch gift rules. Executive Branch personnel wishing to attend should consult with their designated Agency Ethics Office.