At the Wall Street Journal, columnist L. Gordon Crovitz breaks down the current spectrum debate in Washington and calls on the FCC not to pick winners and losers:
A House bill would require the FCC to allow all telecommunications companies to participate in the auction, without regulators picking winners and losers before the bidding even begins. The worry is that the FCC is reverting to its old practice of handpicking preferred owners of broadband, a form of industrial policy that’s bad on principle, and would also reduce the fees going to the Treasury by limiting bidders.
The FCC is lobbying against this provision, even though an agency spokesperson assured me in a phone interview that “the FCC has no intention of keeping either AT&T or Verizon from participating in the auction.” That’s good, but the market-leading firms might still be forced to sell back some of their bandwidth to meet regulatory views about antitrust.
The FCC is trying to manage competition among telecommunications providers using 1970s-era antitrust theories. Almost every American can choose among four or five telecommunications providers, not just Verizon or AT&T.
You can read our own Bruce Mehlman’s take on the FCC and spectrum auctions here.