Late last year I had the pleasure of participating in an event on Spectrum Auctions put together by the New America Foundation.  I’ve blogged about the event before, but when it was recently reported that T-Mobile’s CFO, Braxton Carter, stated that consolidation in the mobile wireless sector was inevitable (“It’s not a question of if, it is a question of when”), I was reminded of an interesting anecdote provided by one of the event’s other participants—former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt.     Specifically, Chairman Hundt was recounting his experience in designing and implementing the first PCS spectrum auctions back in the 1990s.  (Watch the first video …
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According to press reports, the Federal Communications Commission is putting the finishing touches on its much-anticipated order establishing the rules for the upcoming voluntary incentive auctions mandated by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act of 2012 (the “Spectrum Act”).  The big question, of course, is whether the FCC will impose some sort of bidder exclusion rules that would prohibit—or, at minimum, severely constrain—AT&T and Verizon from acquiring more spectrum in the auction.  While newly-installed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is playing his cards close to the vest, given the Sixth Circuit’s reasoning in Cincinnati Bell v. FCC, 69 F.3rd 752 (6th Cir. 1995), …
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Last month, I was generously invited to join a panel put together by the New America Foundation (“NAF”) at a Capitol Hill event entitled Spectrum Auctions: Promoting More Mobile Market Competition . . . or Less?  (For those interested, video of my panel is available here.)  It was an honor to participate, and kudos to Michael Calabrese from NAF for putting together a great event.  On the panel, I was joined by Mark Cooper (Consumer Federation of America), Fred Campbell (Competitive Enterprise Institute), and Peter Cramton (professor at the University of Maryland).  I found the discussion interesting, informative, and mostly civil.  The variance in the …
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Last week, the Phoenix Center released my Perspective entitled Will Bidder Exclusions Increase Auction Revenue?  A Review of the Arguments, which assessed the arguments being made about the revenue consequences of excluding AT&T and Verizon from the upcoming broadcast spectrum incentive auction.  While a number of parties have claimed that such exclusions can enhance auction revenues, I show in my Perspective that the economic theories they rely upon do not support the claim.  In fairness, Sprint, T-Mobile, and others are quick to note that they are not proposing to exclude the two most successful carriers completely, but rather are proposing they be subject to a …
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Spectrum Caps 01

Last year, when Congress was debating the voluntary incentive auction provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act, many argued—including FCC outgoing Chairman Julius Genachowski—that the Commission should have the authority to adopt auction participation rules so that it could prevent an “excessive concentration of licenses” under Section 309(j)(3)(B) of the Communications Act.  While Congress did not include any specific auction participation rules in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act, Section 6404 of the new legislation states that “Nothing … affects any authority the Commission has to adopt and enforce rules of general applicability, including rules concerning spectrum aggregation …
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Each year, Section 331(c)(1)(C) of the Communications Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “review competitive market conditions with respect to commercial mobile services and shall include in its annual report an analysis of those conditions.”  To this end, the agency released its Sixteenth Annual CMRS Report last week.  In this latest report, the FCC makes few formal findings, but instead “focuses on presenting the best data available on competition throughout this sector of the economy and highlighting several key trends in the mobile wireless industry.”  (Sixteenth Report at ¶ 2.)  Consistent with the other CMRS Reports issued under Chairman Julius Genachowski’s watch, the …
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This month, Cardozo Law School Professor and former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy to President Barack Obama Susan Crawford released her new book entitled Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.  Professor Crawford is known as a tireless and vocal advocate for government intervention in and the regulation of telecommunications, and is perhaps the most recognized advocate for the construction of a government-funded and regulated fiber-optic Internet network servicing all American homes and businesses.  Many vigorously oppose Professor Crawford’s ideas by claiming they are overly regulatory and too expensive, but many support her proposals with equal …
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Last week, George and I returned from an amazing trip to Peru where we held two days of workshops with OSIPTEL—the Peruvian telecoms regulator—as part of a project for USAID.  As we covered a wide range of topics, we were once again reminded that while language and individual political nuances among various countries may differ, the fundamental economics—and concurrent complex policy issues—facing telecom regulators remain universal.  That is, how do we get more broadband deployed when it isn’t necessarily profitable to do so? In light of this universal question, we spent a significant amount of time talking about the economics of the “last mile” and …
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