The wireless communications revolution runs on money, technology and spectrum. The money and technology fronts seem in fine shape, thank you. And we are guardedly optimistic that the Obama administration will soon help to ease the spectrum bottleneck by auctioning off some underutilized electromagnetic real estate, raising billions of dollars for cash-starved Washington and ultimately yielding tens of billions of dollars in benefits for consumers. But a recent FCC decision raises concerns that the regulators are all too ready to second-guess the market in the way spectrum is sliced and diced.
That decision would require prior approval from the FCC for Verizon and AT&T simply to lease spectrum capacity from SkyTerra. The regulators didn’t explain their reasoning. But the only rationale for this restriction that might pass a sniff test is that limiting the two largest wireless companies’ access to more spectrum would serve consumers by increasing competition or by speeding the development of technology. This case has not been made. And until somebody does, we wish the FCC would cease and desist.