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Rep. Suzan DelBene discusses smart cities and privacy at the GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Worldwide spending on the Internet of Things is forecasted to reach $745 billion this year and surpass $1 trillion by 2022 as consumers and businesses use an increasing number of connected devices. U.S. lawmakers are worried the country’s infrastructure isn’t ready for that shift, which could be accelerated by 5G, the next generation of wireless technology.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington and former Microsoft executive, has introduced legislation to prepare for the spike in internet-connected devices. She and Rep. John Katko of New York introduced the “Internet of Things (IoT) Readiness Act” this week.

Wireless signals travel over airwaves through a radio frequency called spectrum and the bill’s sponsors want data on how much capacity is available for the next wave of devices. Their legislation instructs the Federal Communications Commission to study and report on whether there is enough spectrum to handle the volume of IoT devices expected to come online.

“Spectrum is a finite resource, and if the available spectrum cannot accommodate the devices in the same vicinity, the signals will interfere with each other and cause them to fail,” DelBene’s office said in a press release.

“I believe it is time for the FCC to include Congress in the spectrum planning conversation,” DelBene added in a statement. “The United States can’t afford to wait around while other countries are implementing IoT readiness plans.”

DelBene is co-chair of the House’s Internet of Things Caucus and a vocal advocate for technology and privacy regulation. She was one of a handful of politicians hosted by Apple CEO Tim Cook in the spring to discuss privacy.

The IoT bill has bipartisan support. DelBene is also pushing for federal privacy legislation and a smart cities bill.

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