Spectrum Allocation: Time to Get on With It

Published April 22, 2013

My new policy brief urges the Federal Communications Commission to get on with the business of allocating the necessary spectrum to meet the burgeoning demand for wireless services.

The paper was finished before Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his resignation last month. At the risk of sounding harsh, that might be addition by subtraction. One of the big disappointments of Genachowski’s tenure was the lack of significant movement to get spectrum freed up and auctioned. In fairness, there were the interests a number of powerful constituencies to be balanced: the wireless companies, the broadcasters, and the federal government itself, which is sitting on chunks of prime spectrum and refuses to budge.

But that’s the job Congress specifically delegated to the FCC. We’d be closer to a resolution–and the public would have been better served–had the FCC put its energies into crafting a viable plan for spectrum trading and re-assignment instead of hand-wringing over how to handicap bidders with neutrality conditions and giving regulatory favors to developers of unproven technologies such as Super WiFi. Instead of managing the spectrum process, the FCC got sidetracked trying to to pick winners and losers.

A new chairman brings an opportunity for a new direction. Spectrum relief should go to the top of the agenda. And as I say in the policy brief, just do it.

[First published at Tech Liberation Front]