Analysis estimates Wi-Fi will boost economy by $547B

Devices wirelessly connected to the Internet will help boost the economy by $547 billion by 2017, according to new analysis from a pro-Wi-Fi organization.

The WifiForward study shows a dramatic increase in people’s use of wireless Internet and could add ammunition to the arguments of people looking to free up more space for the devices.

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“Three decades after unlicensed spectrum got its start in airwaves known as junk, it has become a powerful force in the economy,” Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said on Thursday at an event in Silicon Valley, according to her prepared remarks. Unlicensed spectrum are the chunks of the nation’s airwaves where Wi-Fi signals and some other devices operate, as opposed to the licensed chunks used by broadcast and cellphone companies.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, has been a supporter of increasing the amount of unlicensed space available for wireless Internet and other tools like garage door openers.

“More unlicensed spectrum means more than just more Wi-Fi. It means more innovation without license,” she said. “It means a real jolt to the Internet of Things and the innovative possibilities of machine-to-machine communications.”

The FCC is currently in the process of freeing up more space for unlicensed spectrum. A handful of lawmakers in both chambers and both parties have tried to speed up that process.