Witnesses at a Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet subcommittee hearing about mobile apps on Tuesday pressed senators for action on making more spectrum available for 5G and other services.

“If economic growth is a priority, the Federal government can help the app economy by clearing spectrum for connected devices,” said Dr. Sarah Oh, a research fellow at the Technology Policy Institute.

“We need continued 5G rollout and TV whitespaces technology to help grow all aspects of our industry,” said Morgan Reed, president of app association ACT.

While 5G service rollouts hold potential for further growth in the app sector, Reed explained that companies are using unoccupied television channels to overcome the last-mile challenge and provide broadband to remote, rural populations that could not support the cost of wired connections.

While the industry is looking to government for action to spur more broadband service availability, some senators are looking for ways to improve online privacy. “My feeling is that in the absence of some line in the sand… it will mean nothing is done, and five years from now we’ll be having the same conversation” about privacy, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

“I think one of the things Congress can do [is] put more pressure on the FTC to do a better job” of enforcing privacy regulations, said Reed.  He suggested that the Federal Trade Commission use its bully pulpit to publicize punishments for “egregious offenders” of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). While many app developers have received warnings from the FTC, very little publicity has been given to offenders, Reed said.

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