TIA Blog


TIA Provides Recommendation to Policymakers on How to Maximize Benefits of the Internet of Things

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading trade association for global manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers of information and communications technology (ICT), has watched with interest as regulators – both in the United States and around the world – have begun to examine how devices will be made smarter and more dynamic through Internet technologies, and related policy implications.

TIA and its member companies believe that this increasingly connected world – commonly referred to as an “Internet of Things” (IoT) – holds immense promise for investment and innovation that will translate to wide societal benefit and improvements in countless aspects of American consumers' everyday lives. Already, TIA has engaged a number of regulators on IoT issues (for example, we have submitted IoT-themed filings to the Indian, U.K. and Italian governments in 2014).

At its most basic, the IoT is a label for an increasingly connected future in which regular, everyday items – from household appliances to cars to medical devices – are outfitted with sensors and connected to the Internet to share their data. Viewed more broadly, the Internet of Things will give rise to an entire ecosystem for interconnected devices, objects, systems, and data all working together. In this new world, most communications will be machine-to-machine (M2M), and there will be a continuous exchange of information between devices, sensors, computers and networks.

While the potential for benefits in an IoT world are widely recognized, a number of horizontal policy issues impact the IoT across markets and use cases, such as interoperability, privacy, security and spectrum availability, among others. With these common threads running across IoT applications and use cases, a significant danger exists that vertical regulations imposed in one market will be inappropriate for another, which could lead to a balkanized regulatory approach, stifling innovation and delaying or degrading the economic and social potential of the IoT.

To avoid this scenario, IoT policy discussions should begin with a common horizontal framework whenever possible, followed by tailoring for specific vertical applications only as necessary.

With the above in mind, TIA has developed Realizing the Potential of the Internet of Things: Recommendations to Policy Makers, a white paper offering a general framework for these IoT policy discussions, which we released during a March 26 roundtable event that featured remarks from Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA 1), a co-founder of the House IoT Caucus. The recommendations in this white paper are applicable across market sectors, and will help ensure that the full economic, societal, and technological potential of the Internet of Things is ultimately realized.

In summary, TIA’s recommendations include:

  • Ensure Competitive- and Technology- Neutrality: The IoT will be driven by the convergence of exponentially-increasing availability of connected devices in both the public and private spheres, across markets. The ICT industry is continuing to work towards realizing this continuum of connectivity, and we urge policymakers to ensure a competitive- and technology-neutral approach is taken to any activity that may impact the deployment of the IoT.
  • The Role of Global, Open, Voluntary, and Consensus-Based Standards: We urge for recognition of the importance of the use of global voluntary, open, and consensus-based standards in the IoT which will drive interoperability. These standards are under development in a number of fora, including TIA, with adoption being mainly driven through competition. Reliance on these standardization efforts ensures that scientific expertise from implementers in the private and public sectors is reflected in approaches to the IoT. TIA further strongly encourages recognition of the global consensus that “open” standards are market-driven and allow for the inclusion of patented technologies, which are addressed through the use of fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory patent policies.
  • A Spectrum Policy that Enables the IoT: For the IoT to succeed, the United States must employ a spectrum policy that enables the wide range of products and services falling under this concept. Such a spectrum policy prioritizes predictability, flexibility, efficiency and priority for superior rights from harmful interference. Reallocation and sharing efforts in the United States are crucial to the IoT’s success, and will also serve as a helpful use case for regulators around the globe.
  • Utilize a Voluntary, Flexible, and Collaborative Approach to Data Security Based on International Standards: When addressing data security and resilience, TIA urges for policymakers to ensure respect for competitive differentiation as a primary driver of enhanced security solutions, rely on international standards and best practices, fully leverage the public-private partnership model, and to prioritize end-user awareness and education.
  • Ensure Feasibility and Flexibility in Addressing Data Privacy: The ICT industry prioritizes data privacy, and policymakers should ensure that their activities are technically feasible and do not impose barriers that would discourage the use of existing and developing voluntary solutions that typically emerge from standardization and best practice development fora, as well as public-private partnerships. Further, government should partner with the industry on efforts to ensure informed uses of products and services by consumers.

Of course, TIA looks forward to working with all stakeholders on this issue moving forward, and we encourage you to share your views!