This is in reference to Tracy Anderson Ford’s “Viewpoint” column in the May 19 issue of RCR. In that column, Ms. Ford correctly notes how the spectrum needs of private wireless users, including public safety users, “got trampled over as the nation’s leaders raced to see how much money could be milked from auctioning private communication spectrum.” I also agree with her position that it would be “wise to divert lawmakers’ attentions away from auctions, where the primary goal seems to be to raise money.”
Unfortunately, Ms. Ford’s use of the term “private communication spectrum” sends up a mixed message when she later writes, “Stop the flow of private communications spectrum into the marketplace and do some good for all of us at the same time.” Taken in context, I believe she meant to say “stop the flow of auctionable spectrum.” For too long, we have allowed spectrum policy to be dictated by economic policy, with the perverse result that some in government are calling for a mechanism to shore-up the commercial value of spectrum. (This being the case, perhaps spectrum management should be transferred to Alan Greenspan and the economists at the Federal Reserve Board who are quite adept at regulating the market value of other scarce government resources!)
To public safety and public service organizations, however, spectrum value is not measured by its scarcity, but by its availability. Policies must be adopted to ensure allocation of sufficient spectrum to meet legitimate communications needs of public safety agencies and other private wireless users that must operate or maintain the critical national infrastructure. If this helps to maintain the market value of spectrum used for commercial services, then that’s certainly a “plus,” but it should not be the reason for making these important allocations.