Wireless communications have improved the lives of millions of people across the United States and the world. However, the rapid expansion of wireless services has brought growing pains: The electronic spectrum on which most communications are broadcast is a limited resource that is quickly filling up.
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission regulates the spectrum and how these frequencies are distributed.
Wireless spectrum in the United State is far less utilized then spectrum in other countries. According to the Technology Liberation Front, British consumers have 3.5 times the available spectrum as Americans; Japanese consumers have around 2 times as much. This growing lack of spectrum capacity has emerged due to the slow issuance of new spectrum by the FCC through competitive auctions and Congresses interference in voluntary transfers of broadcast spectrum.
The competitive auctioning of wireless spectrum, when it has been allowed by the FCC has been an effective process; allowing for the creation of what is a thriving, competitive telecom market that gives U.S. consumers a wide array of products at reasonable prices. Currently, a large portion of the spectrum that is suitable for auction between 400 MHz and 3 GHz is held by the government and the FCC has been slow to issue the largely underutilized spectrum.
Despite the success of the competitive auction system, the federal government has repeatedly attempted to implement new auction rules to ensure that all companies receive their “fair share” of wireless spectrum in spectrum auctions.
Broadband development across the United States has been robust, creating wide internet availability at affordable prices. The market based system does not need reform; government control of the spectrum would undermine what has been a very successful system. The government has already badly botched the release of unused spectrum, slowly releasing usable spectrum while hoarding some of the best for itself.