So much has been written about the 700 MHz wireless auctions, and there has been a lot rejoicing on part of Google and other consumer groups who oppose the incumbents. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin got his way, but I am not buying all the doublespeak coming out of the FCC, Google, or the incumbents.
They all say they want to spur the broadband competition, and build a third pipe. If they are actually serious about this, then how about giving the spectrum back to the people – i.e. make it unlicensed (like the spectrum used for Wi-Fi.) In doing so, the FCC would actually be ensuring that no single party owns this third pipe.
The innovation and competition that could emerge as a result would start an economic chain reaction with real long-term economic ramifications. Such an explosion could far exceed the short-term gains that come from auctioning off the spectrum.
The FCC wants to use the proceeds of the auction to help pay for the DTV set-top box upgrades, which is a worthy cause – but isn’t there another way to pay for those upgrades and reap more gains over a longer term? Another argument against unlicensed spectrum could be that there will be enough white space between bands that is going to be unlicensed. Will that be enough? I don’t think so.