Tags: Sell | Radio | Spectrum

Economist: Sell Radio Spectrum to Raise $300 Billion

Tuesday, 09 Mar 2010 09:32 AM

Economist and University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler says that re-working the way the radio spectrum is used could raise $300 billion for the government and increase the value of services to consumers by $1 trillion.

“Economists are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch,” Thaler recently wrote in The New York Times. “Here we have an idea that is even better than a free lunch: being paid to eat lunch.”

Selling unused radio spectrum would stimulate the economy, improve health care, offer fast Internet connections to all of our schools, foster development of advanced technology as well as reduce the budget deficit, Thaler contends.

The reason?

The superlative features offered by iPhones and Blackberries are making the radio spectrum as crowded as Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Thaler observes — and only 17 percent of the spectrum used for over-the-air broadcasts is actually allocated by the F.C.C. for full-power television stations.

And over-the-air broadcasts are becoming a nearly obsolete technology.

“Already, 91 percent of American households get their television via cable or satellite,” Thaler notes.

“So we are using all of this beachfront property to serve a small and shrinking segment of the population," Thaler says.

"And unlike some gimmicks from state and local governments, like selling off proceeds from the state lottery to a private company, this doesn’t solve current problems simply by borrowing from future generations.”

The Federal Communications Commission wants a $16 billion national network for emergency service use, fastcompany.com reports.

While broadband supply companies have been building out a national network of high-capacity fiber optics, they haven’t met the needs of emergency service "interoperable public safety" communications.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to spend $6 billion in Federal cash to build a nation-wide fiber network and lay out a further $6 billion to $10 billion to fund its ongoing operations over the next 10 years.

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