November 4, 2013

Putting More Spectrum on the Market

Brent Skorup

Senior Research Fellow
Summary

The "current system is similar to that of the former Soviet Union's GOSPLAN agency, which allocated scarce resources by administrative fiat among factories and other producers in the Soviet economy." So said scholars and Clinton-era Federal Communications Commission officials Gerald Faulhaber and David Farber about regulation of radio spectrum – the airwaves that provide us broadband and phone calls on our smartphones, send NFL games from satellites to our TVs, and connect our iPads via Wi-Fi to the Internet. 

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The "current system is similar to that of the former Soviet Union's GOSPLAN agency, which allocated scarce resources by administrative fiat among factories and other producers in the Soviet economy." So said scholars and Clinton-era Federal Communications Commission officials Gerald Faulhaber and David Farber about regulation of radio spectrum – the airwaves that provide us broadband and phone calls on our smartphones, send NFL games from satellites to our TVs, and connect our iPads via Wi-Fi to the Internet.

The problem stems from the U.S. spectrum regulatory framework, largely unchanged since the 1920s. The framework was devised at a time when broadcast radio was cutting-edge. Because it has failed to keep up with changing technology, those regulations severely distort the current technology industry and harm consumers with high prices, dropped calls and annoying mobile data limits.

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