Auctioning the 700 MHz Spectrum

While I disagree with his premise that businesses trying to protect their interests are “seriously bad people,” Matt Stoler is right that the FCC should open the competition for the 700 MHz band to all comers.

Kevin Drum‘s tone is more sober:

If the telecom industry has its way, the entire spectrum will be auctioned off under the current rules to the current players and new competitors will be shut out. If you’re happy with the lousy service and spectacular lack of innovation demonstrated by today’s telecom giants, this is the plan for you.

For the rest of us, a better policy would be to auction off a piece of the spectrum under the usual rules, but to reserve another chunk to be auctioned off under “open access” rules that require the spectrum to be open to anyone who wants to lease it and to any device that’s capable of running on it. This would allow small innovators to enter the market and would open up the spectrum to interesting new devices in the same way that the Supreme Court’s 1969 Carterphone decision revolutionized the phone industry by opening up the old telephone network to answering machines and cordless phones not made by AT&T. But none of this will happen if the entire spectrum gets auctioned off to the usual suspects.

Because of its very nature, broadcast media requires some centralized regulation to ensure that competition doesn’t, quite literally, cause signals to become noise. Beyond that, however, it strikes me as eminently reasonable to allow the market as much freedom as possible. The more innovation, the better.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Science & Technology, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tlaloc says:

    While I disagree with his premise that businesses trying to protect their interests are “seriously bad people,”

    If “protecting their business” comes at the expense of harming all around them then, yes, they are in fact seriously bad people.

    You seem to be arguing that any amount of misanthroy is just fine so long as the villains involved append a “inc.” after their names.

    Let me put it this way- when WR Grace knowingly sold off products that contained asbestos and hid that fict from both their customers and the regulatory bodies involved they were “protecting their business.” Does that make it okay? Or can we say that being in business requires some shred of responsibility too?

  2. James Joyner says:

    can we say that being in business requires some shred of responsibility too?

    At minimum, it requires obeying the laws, including not engaging in fraud.

    I don’t think the telecoms are doing anything comparable, though, by trying to keep in place rules that advantage themselves.

  3. Michael says:

    James says (paraphrased) “Not all business are bad”

    Tlaloc says (paraphrased again) “How can you claim that all business are good when I have an example of one that is bad?”

    Did I miss something?

  4. Tlaloc says:

    Did I miss something?

    Indeed, what he actually said is “a business protecting its market share is not bad.”

    To which I gave the example of a business literally killing people to protect it’s market share, which he agreed was bad. So we know his initial comment was in error, there are limits to how far a business can go to protect its market. Now we just need Mr. Joyner to explain why stifling innovation and maintaining a monopoly based on the collusion of the principle operators is not a bad thing…

  5. Tlaloc,

    Your display of illogic is stunning. And when Michael called you on it, you simply repeated it with slightly different words.

    James,

    If you’re happy with the lousy service and spectacular lack of innovation demonstrated by today’s telecom giants, this is the plan for you.

    When I was a kid, which wasn’t all that long ago, Bell was the telecommunications giant. There wasn’t another. If I wanted to call someone, I used a big clunky metal and Bakelite phone leased from Bell that could probably have withstood a bazooka hit (why it was built that solidly I’ll never know.) If we wanted to call Grandma a couple of states away, we got out our own amplifier to put the conversation on speaker, so the whole family could all share the expensive few minutes of conversation. People actually took the time required to write snail mail.

    Now there are multiple telecommunications giants, competing vigorously for my dollar with their clever TV commercials. I use a cheap plastic phone I bought myself to call anyone in the country at a sufficiently low rate that I rarely bother to pay attention to the passage of time. I haven’t written snail mail in years. My wife has a gadget in her purse that is smaller and lighter than a supposedly futuristic Star Trek communicator of the 1960s that lets her call practicallyl anyone from anywhere, and while the rate is not yet so low that she doesn’t need to watch her minutes, it’s rapidly getting there.

    In other words, I’m failing to see the problem with today’s telecommunications giants.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    Your display of illogic is stunning. And when Michael called you on it, you simply repeated it with slightly different words.

    Somebody needs an elementary logic course (hint: you). What michael said was basically this:

    Joyner: *some* A=B
    Me: here’s an A=/=B

    His (michael’s) point being that “my” statement wouldn’t contradict Mr. joyner’s. If that had been what we’d actually said he would have been right. But here’s what really happened:

    Joyner: A=B (note no “some”)
    Me: example of A=/=B

    in this case because Joyner expressed a universal affirmative a single counterexample is sufficient to disprove the universal claim.

    QED.

    P.S. before accusing others of illogic you might want to make sure you haven’t just made an obvious mistake, you for the future, Kent.

  7. Tlaloc,

    You have misrepresented James proposition, which was

    !(all A is B)

    This is not remotely the same as

    all A is !B

    which is how you characterized it.

    I throw your own postscript back at you. Nyah. Nyah.

  8. Tlaloc says:

    Tlaloc,

    You have misrepresented James proposition, which was

    !(all A is B)

    This is not remotely the same as

    all A is !B

    which is how you characterized it.

    Jaymes statement was to quote “While I disagree with his premise that businesses trying to protect their interests are “seriously bad people,””

    Got that? He’s denying that a business protecting it’s business could be seriously bad people. He says so directly. That’s !(A=B) which means a single example of A=B disproves it. And I gave one. A company CAN defend its business and by doing so be “seriously bad people.”

    If he had said “I don’t think *in this case* that a company defending its’ business makes them bad people” that would be what you said: !(all A is B). But he didn’t he issued a blanket statement that defending your business was automatically not bad, or more to the point he disputed that there could be a case to the contrary. That is he disputed that A=B could happen, which is the same as saying !(A=B)

    Clear, yet?

  9. Michael says:

    Got that? He’s denying that a business protecting it’s business could be seriously bad people.

    No, he’s denying that they are bad people just because they are protecting their business. Here’s some more fancy math looking stuff:

    James: (A+B != D)
    You: (A+B+C == D)

    Where ‘A’ is a business, ‘B’ is protecting market share, ‘C’ is killing people, and ‘D’ is evil. By adding the element of ‘C’ into your proposition, you made it substantially different than James’ proposition, therefore you can both be right.

    he issued a blanket statement that defending your business was automatically not bad,

    Close, he issued a blanket statement that defending your business was not automatically bad. It’s funny how transposing 2 words can make all the difference.

  10. Kent says:

    Tlaloc,

    Got that? He’s denying that a business protecting it’s business could be seriously bad people. He says so directly.

    No, that’s not what he’s saying, no matter how many times you insist otherwise (three at last count.)

    Matt Stoler apparently said something amounting to:

    … businesses trying to protect their interests are “seriously bad people,” …

    that is, all A (businesses trying to protect their interests) are B (seriously bad people). The “all” is clearly implicit. That’s the “all A are B” part.

    James says:

    While I disagree with his premise …

    that is, “!(Matt’s premise)” which by simple substitution is “!(all A are B)”. Like I said.

    This is not the same as “all A are !B”. The latter is refuted by a single counterexample. The former is not.

    With this understood, the rest of your first comment dissolves into a series of non sequiturs, and an unnecessarily insulting and puerile set of non sequiturs, at that.

    For example, your statement

    You seem to be arguing that any amount of misanthroy is just fine so long as the villains involved append a “inc.” after their names.

    is so at odds with fact, logic, and James’ record over the long history of this blog that it amounts to point-blank rudeness.

    Oh, and on the theory that a dish served cold deserves whipped cream and a cherry on top: “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” rather than the correct English neutral possessive. And you misspelled “misanthropy.”