Spectrum as Public Good

Clay Shirky writes about the need for a shift in thinking:

Unlicensed spectrum is different. In addition to all the regulatory complexities, an enormous philosophical change is being proposed. Transmuting spectrum from licensed to unlicensed changes what spectrum is. This change is possible because of advances in the engineering of wireless systems.

This matters, a lot, because with the spread of unlicensed wireless, the FCC could live up to its mandate of managing spectrum on behalf of the public, by allowing for and even encouraging engineering practices that treat spectrum itself as a public good. A public good, in economic terms, is something that is best provisioned for everyone (an economic characteristic called non-excludability) and which anyone can use without depleting the resource (a characteristic called non-rival use — individual users aren’t rivals for the resource.)

Comments are closed.