A Technology Policy Institute (TPI) study being released
Thursday, "Is There Really a Spectrum Crisis? Quantifying the Factors
Affecting Spectrum License Value," concludes that spectrum in the hands of
broadcasting, what it labels a "dying service," is of the "least
value" in strict economic terms, while that spectrum is most valuable used
for wireless broadband.
The study, from institute vice president for research Scott
Wallsten, is based on FCC auction data dating back to the mid-1990s and looks
strictly at value per megahertz pop, though it does refer to broadcasting as a
The study recommends that the FCC and the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration continue to move spectrum to
the market and speed secondary spectrum transactions, points also made in a
broadband policy guide released by the Internet Innovation Alliance.
"The least valuable are licenses that allow only
television broadcasting, followed by licenses that allow only paging," he
writes. "These results are sensible -- as services are increasingly all
digital and delivered over IP network it makes increasingly less sense to have
spectrum devoted to specific [and dying] services."
According to its website, the Institute's
supporters include both broadband players -- Comcast, Verizon, AT&T,
USTelecom -- and some owners of major broadcast networks and stations that use
all that broadcast spectrum -- Disney, NBCU.
Analyzing FCC and other data, Scott concludes that spectrum is
becoming increasingly scarce based on a steady increase in value over the past
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.