News Column

CEA: Unlicensed Spectrum Annually Produces $62 Billion for U.S. Economy

June 21, 2014

A new report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) finds that 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.

CEA said in a release that 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.

"Unlicensed spectrum is essential to keeping us connected and advancing innovation and tech entrepreneurship in the 21st century," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. "Everyday devices that run on unlicensed spectrum are all around us - garage door openers, home security systems, baby monitors, all the products we have come to rely on that utilize Wi-Fi, and more. Unlicensed spectrum is the fuel that powers innovation in our increasingly digitized, interconnected and untethered world."

The company reported that CEA's new report estimates that growth of devices relying on unlicensed spectrum is extremely strong.

CE devices that rely most heavily on unlicensed spectrum, which include Bluetooth and radio frequency identification-enabled devices, have a cumulative annual growth rate of roughly 30 percent from 2011-2016.

As reported in CEA's recent 16th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study, ownership of spectrum-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablet computers is at an all-time high.

Smartphones are now in two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. households and tablets are in almost half of U.S. homes (45 percent), both increasing their household penetration rates by six percentage points in just the last year.

The report draws upon sales data from the entire ecosystem of devices that use unlicensed spectrum in order to estimate their impact on the U.S. economy.

AM radio broadcasting hardware, automatic vehicle identification systems, industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) devices and many more - beyond the ubiquitous Wi-Fi routers - are accounted for in the report.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the technology trade association representing U.S. consumer electronics industry.

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Source: Professional Services Close - Up

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