Notes for the Spectrum Geek
Tom Hazlett had an interesting article in yesterday's Financial Times arguing that the FCC's policy of auctioning licenses, while reasonably equitable and efficient in some contexts, is at other times unfair to innovators. He's specifically upset at the treatment of Northpoint Technology, which has developed a system dubbed the Multi-Channel Video Distribution and Data Service:
…instead of allowing the innovator to launch the service and compete with established players, the FCC would hold an auction. Northpoint, like any other company, was free to bid, buying back its business plan. It had invested heavily to push this opportunity through the regulatory labyrinth—over $10 million in regulatory costs by 2001—but gained no preference over companies that had done nothing, or energetically opposed it. This outcome socialises gains and privatises costs…
In other news, some of the people who started the push to legalize low-power FM broadcasting are now setting their sights on low-power AM.