For the United States to lead the world, we need the best communications networks in the world. We live, work and play on the internet—and we do more and more of it wirelessly. Our nation’s airwaves are the lifeblood of those activities, and how we manage these finite resources determines how fast our networks work, how much we pay and who gets to participate. Explaining how those airwaves work and why they are so important in a way that consumers, the media and even many policymakers can understand is no easy task. But it is a critical one.
The rules that govern how our airwaves (spectrum) are used are complicated and dense. We translated that into something everyone needs, knows and loves—Wi-Fi—and by doing that, we got people to pay attention. We then built a broad coalition of companies and organizations that could paint the picture of technologies in the everyday world so we could show, not just tell, policymakers and consumers that if the rules we make as a country don’t include more Wi-Fi spectrum, it will have very real consequences for our citizens and our global leadership.
We organized and recruited a diverse group of companies, trade associations and public interest groups—organizations that often have competing priorities—to advocate together for policies that free up access to unlicensed, or “Wi-Fi,” spectrum.
We built and launched the WifiForward coalition to be just like Wi-Fi—an onramp—to a complex set of policy discussions that needed to be informed by the importance of this spectrum and the need for more of it. We used a mix of economic studies, custom events and owned and earned media delivered consistently in digestible, compelling and creative format that allowed companies, innovators, consumer advocates and economists to clearly demonstrate the impact of unlicensed spectrum on our economy and society.
In just under 5 years, we've successfully raised the profile of Wi-Fi spectrum policy and the contribution of Wi-Fi to our national networks. No longer are spectrum decisions either/or between licensed spectrum and Wi-Fi spectrum—they are both. We’ve demonstrated the value of Wi-Fi and unlicensed spectrum to the U.S. economy—over $525 billion in 2017 alone—and ensured that policymakers and the press do not have a conversation about spectrum without mentioning “Wi-Fi.”