“Free” Broadband Requirement in AWS-3 Spectrum Auction is a Step Backward, Lenard argues in FCC Comments

“Free” Broadband Requirement in AWS-3 Spectrum Auction is a Step Backward, Lenard argues in FCC Comments

June 5, 2008 – Lenard Files Comments With FCC on AWS-3 Spectrum Auction, “Free” Broadband Hasn’t Worked, Represents Step Backward on Spectrum Policy.

Technology Policy Institute president and senior fellow Thomas Lenard filed comments today with the Federal Communications Commission on its proposal to auction the 2155-2175 MHz band (AWS-3) subject to rules that would require the winner to offer a basic tier of free wireless broadband service that virtually the entire U.S. population could access. The service conditions are similar to those contained in a 2006 application by M2Z to obtain this spectrum for free.

Lenard urged the Commission to abandon its plan to require the winner to provide ubiquitous free broadband service and to auction the AWS-3 spectrum under a flexible license. He said, “Past efforts to provide free broadband have not been successful and there is no reason to believe this effort will be different. Major projects have been abandoned and service providers have encountered financial difficulties trying to implement similar schemes. The proposal envisions a paid-advertising business model, which apparently has not previously been used for broadband infrastructure.”

Lenard added, “No market failure justifies the Commission’s proposal, it is likely to be unsuccessful in any event, and it represents a step backward from the market-based spectrum policy the Commission has been moving toward in recent years. Auctioning the spectrum without specifying the required uses will increase the amount bidders are willing to pay for the spectrum, reflecting its higher value to bidders, consumers, and the economy.”

Technology Policy Institute

The Technology Policy Institute is a think tank that focuses on the economics of innovation, technological change, and related regulation in the United States and around the world. Its mission is to advance knowledge and inform policymakers by producing independent, rigorous research and by sponsoring educational programs and conferences on major issues affecting information technology and communications policy. The Technology Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) research and educational foundation.

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