March 2012

Yesterday, the International Center for Law and Economics and TechFreedom jointly filed comments [pdf] with the FCC on the Verizon SpectrumCo deal.  In the comments, ICLE Executive Director Geoffrey Manne and TechFreedom President Berin Szoka counter the primary arguments against the deal:

Critics lament the concentration of spectrum in the hands of one of the industry’s biggest players, but the assumption that concentration will harm to consumers is unsupported and misplaced.  Concentration of spectrum has not slowed the growth of the market; rather, the problem is that growth in demand has dramatically outpaced capacity.  What’s more: prices have plummeted even as the industry has become more concentrated.

While the FCC undeniably has authority to review the license transfers, the argument that the separate but related commercial agreements would reduce competition is properly the province of the Department of Justice.  That argument is best measured under the antitrust laws, not by the FCC under its vague “public interest” standard.  Indeed, if the FCC can assert jurisdiction over the commercial agreements as part of its public interest review, its authority over license transfers will become a license to regulate all aspects of business.  This is a recipe for certain mischief.

The need for all competitors, including Verizon, to obtain sufficient spectrum to meet increasing demand demonstrates that the deal is in the public interest and should be approved.

On the podcast this week, Bruce Schneier, internationally renowned security expert and author, discusses his new book entitled, “Liars & Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs To Thrive.” Schneier starts the discussion by looking at society and trust and explains why he thinks the two are necessary for civilization. According to Schneier, two concepts contribute to a trustful society: first, humans are mostly moral; second, informal reputation systems incentivize trustworthy behavior. The discussion turns to technology and trust, and Schneier talks about how the information society yields greater consequences when trust is breached. He then describes how society deals with technology and trust and why he thinks the system is not perfect but working well overall.

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