Congress is now considering legislation to grant the FCC new authority to hold voluntary incentive auctions for spectrum. This legislation would alleviate shortages of spectrum that are threatening to hold back the development of a wireless broadband platform capable of competing with wireline platforms. It would boost the economy and advance our progress toward a more efficient, market-oriented spectrum regime.
Commentaries and Op-Eds
Improving ICANN’s Governance and Accountability: A Policy Proposal
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has control over extremely important aspects of the Internet. Yet, its non-profit corporation status, combined with the way that it is funded and governed, make accountability a serious problem. This paper draws on the accountability framework that has been developed by Mueller (2009) to evaluate the structure and governance of ICANN and then compares it to the structure and governance of a number of other organizations that perform a roughly comparable range of coordination and standard-setting functions, to explore what might be applicable to ICANN. Virtually all of these other organizations are governed by their direct users, thereby building accountability into their structures. We suggest that this would be a good model for ICANN as well.
The Path to Universal Broadband: Why We Should Grant Low-Income Subsidies and Use Experiments and Auctions to Determine the Specifics
Gregory Rosston of Stanford University and Scott Wallsten of the Technology Policy Institute argue that the switch from voice to broadband services provides a rare opportunity to reform universal service programs. Rossten and Wallsten offer an alternative design to deliver services in an efficient and politically-palatable manner.
The Future of Digital Communications Research and Policy
Over the past decade broadband has become nearly ubiquitously available to households and firms throughout the industrialized world. This rapid growth has spurred interest by policymakers and academics in understanding how public policies affect�and hopefully, encourage�investment and adoption. While such knowledge is useful, it is important to recognize that broadband investment and adoption are only inputs into societal well-being. We are ultimately interested in outputs: how does investment and use affect our standard of living and the economy more broadly?
Ten Fallacies About Web Privacy
We are not used to the Internet reality that something can be known and at the same time no person knows it.
Screening and Simplifying the Competition Arguments in the NBC/Comcast Transaction
The proposed joint venture between Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal is a significant transaction in a significant market. The transaction will create a large media and distribution company, including the programming assets of both NBC, a leading national programmer, and Comcast, which owns several cable networks and some regional sports networks, and the distribution assets of NBC (namely, its owned-and-operated broadcast television stations). This new company will be majority-owned by Comcast, which in its own right is the nation�s largest distributor of multi-channel video programming, and Comcast could be in the position, within the next few years, to own 100% of the new joint venture. The size of the transaction is made more important by the markets in which the companies operate: the companies are more than just producers and distributors of entertainment and sports programming, which are of course important in their own rights, the companies also produce and distribute news and political programming. The mass media has long been considered a market important enough not only to draw scrutiny from antitrust authorities but also to justify the attention of a specialized regulator, using sector-specific regulation designed to achieve specific outcomes.
In Defense of Data: Information and the Costs of Privacy, Policy & Internet Journal
The commercial use of information on the Internet has produced substantial benefits for consumers. But, as the use of information online has increased, so have concerns about privacy. This paper discusses how the use of individuals� information for commercial purposes affects consumers, and the implications of restricting information availability in the interest of privacy. It lays out a range of information benefits to consumers of the commercial use of online information, including targeted services, cost reductions through targeted advertising, efficient search engines, differential pricing and re-use of information. It argues that firms have incentives to satisfy customers� privacy preferences and that restrictions in the legitimate use of information may not lead to further privacy benefits. It discusses a number of policy proposals geared at maximizing privacy, arguing that benefits to consumers would be outweighed by the information costs.
The future of the Internet is mobile. Therefore it is not surprising that a main goal of the Federal Communications Commission’s long-awaited National Broadband Plan is to increase the availability of electromagnetic spectrum–“the oxygen of mobile broadband service,” as FCC Chairman Genachowski put it in a recent speech. What is surprising is that the FCC’s current recommendation focuses on broadcasters and gives short shrift to what is potentially the largest source of additional spectrum–which is now occupied by the federal government.