Consumer Technology Association (CTA), a national trade organization representing more than 2,200 tech companies in the United States, recently submitted a petition for Rulemaking Or, In The Alternative, Waiver To Expand Marketing Opportunities For Innovative Technologies. Lincoln's letter of support of the petition can be downloaded here
Ms. Marlene H. Dortch
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
July 6, 2020
Re: In the Matter of Petition to Expand Marketing Opportunities for Innovative Technologies, CG RM-11857
Dear Ms. Dortch:
Lincoln Network (“Lincoln”) writes to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) to provide its letter of support for the Consumer Technology Association’s (“CTA’s”) Petition for Rulemaking Or, In The Alternative, Waiver To Expand Marketing Opportunities For Innovative Technologies (the “CTA Petition”). Lincoln is a non-profit organization that seeks to bridge the often siloed discussions between policymakers in Washington, D.C., and technologists in Silicon Valley so as to advance smart policy that encourages innovation. The CTA Petition presents a policy position in line with Lincoln’s stated mission.
Since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11, 2020, the average daily broadband usage has gone up an estimated 47%. Conversely, an ancillary effect of the pandemic is a potential overall 18% drop in the development of new Internet of things
(“IoT”) devices. This a concerning statistic as some of the most important IoT use cases come from connected health and connected education enterprises which are critical in these difficult times. Consumers will become ever more reliant on these technologies for the foreseeable future. It follows that we need smart, efficient policies to bring these innovative technologies to market and ones that allow innovators to respond to this ever-changing economic landscape.
The United States’ success in the race to 5G is critical and enabling the IoT ecosystem should be part of the Commission’s strategy in promoting 5G. This FCC in particular has made considerable efforts to expedite the deployment of 5G networks, either through reducing barriers to building infrastructure or through opening up key spectrum bands. Safely and responsibly developing IoT equipment and devices is also key to a robust 5G ecosystem. The requests made in the CTA Petition provide the Commission with an effective roadmap to accomplish just that.
At its core, the CTA Petition asks the Commission to carefully evaluate the effect its marketing and importation rules have on, among other industries, emerging-IoT technologies so as to ensure the Commission is not placing an unnecessary barrier to entry on new and innovative devices. The concern with the Commission’s rules as they currently stand is that they are overly strict and often require a lengthy and, at times, an unnecessary approval process. Such delays can be fatal to nascent technologies, as CTA points out in its petition. CTA’s data demonstrate that these barriers to approval have significantly slowed many companies from bringing their innovative IoT products to market, which, in turn, slows adoption for these technologies that would otherwise enhance a consumer’s 5G experience.
The policy behind the current Commission’s rules on pre-approval marketing and importation is sound but the rules need to be updated to current business practices. The
Commission’s rules rightfully seek to ensure that various consumer products will not generate harmful interference, cause safety risks, or defraud consumers before companies can market them to consumers. However, as CTA notes in the Petition, the market and the way these companies prepare their products for distribution have drastically changed, even compared to last time the Commission modified these very rules a mere 7 years ago. Moreover, we contend that other agencies, such as the FTC,
already provide adequate checks on these devices for consumer protections, which make aspects of the FCC’s review that CTA points out in its petition superfluous in many regards, in Lincoln’s view. Also, the suggested Commission positions articulated in the CTA Petition can both protect consumers and enable the emerging IoT revolution.
Due to these considerations, Lincoln applauds CTA for offering these meaningful solutions and respectfully requests that the Commission grants the Petition.
Lincoln thanks the Commission, in advance, for its time and consideration of our views.
Very truly yours,
Phillips Lytle, LLP
Joel L. Thayer
Outside Counsel for Lincoln Network
cc: Chairman Ajit Pai
Commissioner Mike O'Reilly
Commissioner Brendan Carr
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
Commissioner Geoffrey Starks