Academic journal article Federal Communications Law Journal

The Move to Spectrum Sharing: How Reclassification under Title II Will Cause Spectrum Sharing to Dominate Telecommunications Policy

Academic journal article Federal Communications Law Journal

The Move to Spectrum Sharing: How Reclassification under Title II Will Cause Spectrum Sharing to Dominate Telecommunications Policy

Article excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS   I. INTRODUCTION                                                    471 II. SPECTRUM: ITS MODERN USES AND METHODS OF ALLOCATION             472  A. Spectrum and United States Federal Governmental Agencies        473  B. Methods of Spectrum Allocation: Clearing and Reallocating, and  Other Implausible Solutions                                        476  C. Methods of Spectrum Allocation: Auctions                        478  D. Methods of Spectrum Allocation: Sharing                         480 III. SPECTRUM VALUATION AND INCENTIVES                              481  A. Federal Agencies' Incentives for Efficient Use                  482  B. Private Sector Valuation and Incentives                         483  C. Federal Government Valuation and Incentives for Repurposing  Agency Spectrum                                                    484 IV. RECLASSIFICATION OF BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS PROVIDERS  UNDER TITLE II                                                     485  A. Reclassification Under Title II: Creating Uncertainty           486  B. Reclassification Under Title II: Spectrum Valuation Impacts     486  V. ANALYSIS: SPECTRUM SHARING WILL RESULT                          487  A. The Move to Sharing: Impact of Reclassification Under  Title II                                                           488  B. Why Sharing Will Come to Dominate Modern Spectrum  Management Policy                                                  490  C. Why Methods Other Than Spectrum Sharing Will Not Occur          491 VI. CONCLUSION                                                      492 

I. INTRODUCTION

Electromagnetic spectrum plays an instrumental role in the daily lives of United States citizens as the nation's airwaves power countless devices from cellular phones to marine radios, and demand for spectrum continues to grow exponentially. (1) The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) faces the challenges associated with skyrocketing demand for spectrum that outpaces the amount of the resource available. (2) Meanwhile, in the public sector, federal agencies utilize spectrum to perform vital functions, including maintaining public safety and national security. (3) Although there have been different methods of spectrum allocation in the past, recent methods include spectrum auctions and spectrum sharing. This Note will discuss how methods of managing spectrum in the United States must evolve with the expanding marketplace and the needs of federal agencies. Central to this Note's analysis is the impact of reclassifying broadband Internet access under Title II of the Communications Act on spectrum allocation implications.

In deciding among methods of allocation, one must understand how the actors in the private and public sectors value spectrum for their own use. The private sector derives value from spectrum based on the amount of potential profit from wireless services utilizing bandwidth. (4) Federal agencies value spectrum based on potential social welfare. (5) The United States government has demonstrated that it has an economic incentive for repurposing the spectrum held by federal agencies for the commercial sector through spectrum auctions. (6) Spectrum valuation and incentives for repurposing federal agencies' spectrum, may be impacted by the reclassification of broadband Internet access as a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. (7) One theory asserts that reclassification under Title II will decrease capital investment and competition, thereby causing a devaluation of spectrum that will impact spectrum policy. (8) If reclassification devalues spectrum, new methods of allocation of spectrum will dominate telecommunications policy. This Note argues that the theory of spectrum devaluation, as a result of reclassification of broadband Internet access, will cause a decrease in governmental economic incentives to use clearing and auctions for the dominant means of spectrum policy. …

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