Recently, both the House and Senate Commerce Committees held hearings discussing ways to allocate additional spectrum for mobile broadband use in order to meet the growing consumer demand for mobile technology.

The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee is considering two pieces of legislation including the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act, to encourage better use of federal spectrum, and the Spectrum Pipeline Act, which would lay the groundwork for the long-term reallocation planning of various spectrum bands.

Here at Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), we view spectrum as an irreplaceable resource our communities need in order to engage in an equal communication playing field with the rest of society. We are experiencing a mobile revolution, and spectrum is the fuel powering the mobile broadband engine. If the federal government does not act promptly to free up the wireless spectrum for mobile devices, the revolution would be very limited.

Imagine what it would be like if you were still using text-based pagers from before 2000, with no video nor any enhanced bandwidth-sensitive content. No ability to use VRS or call others using video while on the go. That is what we would have been stuck with if there was not enough spectrum. What we have now is wonderful, but it can be so much more if enough spectrum is freed up for mobile usage.

Over the past decade, consumers have experienced the emergence of the Internet of Things, which has changed the lives of nearly every American including the deaf and hard of hearing. The Internet is a unique tool that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to break through barriers of communication without speaking verbally. This in turn empowers a deaf/hard of hearing user to interact with all types of individuals online and enjoy effortless navigation across various social channels.

For this reason, a sustainable supply of spectrum is necessary to not only protect the current communication tools used by the deaf/hard of hearing community, but also to allow for further innovation and wireless advancements. TDI envisions a future where persons who are deaf or hard of hearing can access all forms of information, entertainment and telecommunications, thus allowing them to live independently and actively participate in society.

TDI welcomes further discussion about advancing U.S. spectrum policy and the reallocation of certain spectrum bands for consumer use. As the demand for spectrum continues to rise, it is crucial to establish a transparent and well-researched plan for spectrum reallocation. Additional spectrum means more to our constituents than just the ability to access faster networks; their lives depend on a reliable and efficient connection.