The same bill that authorized the FCC to conduct the so-called incentive auctions also directed the agency to expand the availability and use of unlicensed spectrum, which advocates say is an essential test bed for novel technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
"Good spectrum requires both licensed and unlicensed services across multiple spectrum bands," Rosenworcel said.
Wednesday's action marks the first formal step in what could be a lengthy process of expanding Wi-Fi availability. Much of the spectrum in question is currently occupied by agencies of the federal government, which means that the FCC will have to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ensure that new unlicensed Wi-Fi networks don't interfere with drones or other federal applications that operate in the spectrum band.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.