Holman Jenkins: Politics Leaves Spectrum Rotting on the Docks

by Mike Wendy on May 9, 2012

I don’t really have anything to add to this excerpt from Holman Jenkins’ column today, “How We’re Holding Back Broadband,” regarding the spectrum crunch, caused by politics, and how it threatens broadband ubiquity in America:

…Like food rotting on a dock, only politics and policy prevents spectrum from getting where it’s needed.

However, the industry’s big boys, Verizon and AT&T, may have miscalculated in how they’ve politicked the spectrum challenge. All their warnings about an impending shortfall have only handed a club to their politicized smaller rivals as well as to Beltway outfits like Free Press and Public Knowledge, lineal descendents of those Mau Mau groups that hogtied the incipient DSL powers. These groups live to make sure anything of value is allocated by politics rather than economics.

Washington telecom lawyer Jonathan Lee aptly pointed out the perverse effects of letting their idealized schemes be the enemy of the good. Combining AT&T and T-Mobile would have reduced pressure to cannibalize their older-style 2G/3G networks, which are disproportionately relied on by poorer and elderly users.

As AT&T itself pointed out, their combination would also have improved the economics for bringing 4G wireless to rural areas, where wired broadband’s reach is limited or nonexistent.

Oh well. The Federal Communications Commission and the lobby groups it takes its cues from know better…

Well, the FCC and their special interest lobbyist friends know at least this much: Scarcity, which politicians and special interests live for, is created by them primarily to beget control.  By design it runs inimically to the spontaneous order of the free market (or its closest variant).

As we painfully know here in Washington, there’s no market in the free market for the hidden Marxist or political entrepreneur.   Hence, it – the free market; abundance – must be thwarted and necessary inputs politically constrained.

Sad that the corrupt political marketplace doesn’t go out of business.  Americans – and their broadband options – deserve better.


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