The Progress and Freedom Foundation released a report on why property rights, not the public commons, is the right approach for the future of spectrum allocation. We leave the analysis of this to John Paczkowski of the Mercury News' Good Morning, Silicon Valley:
Ironic isn't it, that an organization called the Progress & Freedom Foundation would go to such lengths to undermine Open Spectrum, a policy that would create a limitless wireless network, giving entrepreneurs a vast new arena in which to innovate and create value for us all. Ironic, but not surprising for an organization that has in the past claimed that fair use stifles innovation. Last week, the PFF released a report claiming, amazingly, that Open Spectrum is a bad idea. It's inefficient, the organization argued, and what's more, it would hinder innovation in spectrum-based services not encourage it (ah yes, just like Wi-Fi). Market-based allocation is the way the go.
This, of course, is exactly what you'd expect from an group backed by a who's who of the telecom industry -- AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, BellSouth, Sprint, Nortel and Qwest to name a few -- all of whom stand to lose a great deal of money should Open Spectrum become a reality. Incumbent carriers like these, many of whom also advocate a tiered Internet, would much prefer a spectrum auction, which would allow them to continue hoarding spectrum for anticompetitive purposes and keep them right where they are today: sitting happily atop the most valuable resource of the Information Age, most of it woefully underused. And that would be tragic, because, as David Weinberger wrote a few years back, we stand to gain so much from Open Spectrum.
Short term, we will see a sudden breaking free from wireless gridlock: New bandwidth available everywhere. New local radio stations. Wireless connectivity among appliances in the house. Innovations wherever action at a distance or ubiquitous access makes sense.