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In The News | Morning Consult | Mark Fowler | October 7, 2020

Spectrum War Ceasefire: Trust the FCC on Ligado

Being chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan was always challenging – much like standing in front of a tennis ball machine every day. Perks? See above. But we Reaganites had a mandate: get rid of smothering regulations, rely on marketplace forces, get government out of content control and open markets to new players and technologies.

In 1934, Congress created the FCC to license and regulate all wireless systems operating in the private sector and the states, delegating to it the authority to allocate spectrum for defined uses and to decide the complex technical issues which would arise. The executive branch was given like authority over federal government uses. A core principle of that seminal law is that radio spectrum is a national resource — not a government one. Conceptually it is held in a national escrow account. Spectrum should only be removed from escrow when a compelling public need, private or government, is demonstrated.

Like a fine old wooden antique slathered with layers of paint that hide the original beauty, parts of the federal bureaucracy have gradually ignored this spectrum trust account and the requirements which justify spectrum release. As a result, spectrum not allocated to the private sector is by magic regarded as “government spectrum,” not the nation’s. Increasingly, proposed private sector uses have met irrational, and even underhanded opposition by some in the executive branch – especially the Department of Defense.

Read the full article at Morning Consult.

 

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