Professor Hazlett Tells WSJ More Broadband Spectrum Needs to be in Private Hands

In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Professor Thomas W. Hazlett makes a case for acceleration of the government's efforts to allocate wireless electromagnet spectrum, arguing that government's role shouldn't be to maximze revenue but rather to ensure the efficient allocation of an important resource for economic growth. He maintains that scarcity of available spectrum results in less choice and price competition for wireless broadband.

More Spectrum, Please, Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2005. By Thomas W. Hazlett.

"Lack of spectrum has prevented T-Mobile from upgrading to high-speed Internet service. Nextel and Sprint opted to merge rather than continue waiting on Uncle Sam to auction off more frequencies. Ultimately, it's the U.S. consumer who loses out. The dearth of spectrum available for commercial use means less choice and price competition with respect to wireless broadband. More spectrum would mean more services and lower prices.

"Regulators have tried to compensate for this stinginess by allowing some 2G license holders to offer 3G services, but this is at best a temporary fix. The better course is to stop distorting the market by pretending that spectrum is a scarce resource. Put as much spectrum as possible -- as quickly as possible -- on the market and remove unnecessary government controls for how it's used. Some incumbent wireless carriers will complain because they don't want any new competition. But the government has no more business protecting these incumbents than it has hoarding frequencies that the market could put to better use."