Congressional Reps More Focused On Short Term Cash Over Long Term Innovation
from the not-the-way-to-encourage-innovation dept
We kind of knew this was going to happen all along. But as the FCC is figuring out how to distribute a bunch of useful spectrum, some in Congress are taking the short-sighted, anti-innovation approach of demanding that it be auctioned off for closed uses, rather than made unlicensed for wider benefit. This is a debate that should have ended ages ago. Open spectrum drives innovation -- unquestionably. Just look at the rise of WiFi and Bluetooth and what that's enabled over the past decade plus. The impact of those two technologies has greatly outweighed any benefit from licensed, locked up spectrum. But, of course, the telcos want that spectrum locked up and limited for use just by their own services (even as they increasingly piggyback on unlicensed spectrum to save money). And, in true corruption laundering fashion, they're able to put forth a "plausible" explanation for why the FCC should auction it off rather than open it up: money. That is, if the FCC auctions if off to telcos for closed use, the federal government can likely raise somewhere in the range of $19 billion (some reports suggest much higher: the CBO predicts nearly $25 billion, and others have suggested it could go even higher than that). That's a decent chunk of cash, obviously. So, Congress is now whining about how the FCC's plan to support unlicensed spectrum is some sort of ridiculous give away by the federal government:
Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, who is chairman of the panel, said the law that gave the F.C.C. the ability to conduct “incentive auctions” of newly available spectrum required “maximizing the proceeds from the auction.”You see, apparently these members of Congress don't want the FCC to do what's best for the country or for innovation. It doesn't want the FCC to do what's best for long term growth (which, in turn will increase tax revenues over the long term). No, these members of Congress instead are only focused on the big upfront number of getting cash now from telcos, even if it means less innovation, less useful tools for the public and less tax revenues down the road. I guess it shouldn't be any surprise that telco companies are among the top five contributors to Walden's most recent campaign (coming right after... lobbyists). Whatever happened to that idea that elected officials should have to wear patches, a la Nascar, of who funds their campaigns?
For the F.C.C. to obtain the highest price for the spectrum it sells, it should limit the size of guard bands, Mr. Walden said; he said the six-megahertz minimum size proposed by the F.C.C. was unnecessarily fat.