US Radio Spectrum Allocation

A section of the whole PDF:

The NTIA publishes this wall chart (which you can order from the Government Printing Office as a poster for a mere $6 with free shipping!).


Neat. I enjoyed the illustrated explanations of various scientific concepts in W.M Welch Scientific Company’s 1944 infographic “Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations”:



The question is whether this “incredible complexity”, with all of the attendant graft, political thumbs on the scale, waste of bandwidth on legacy services with political clout to avoid their spectrum being reassigned, etc., etc., could be replaced with a regime like that which works well for other kinds of scarce resources: property rights and a free market in spectrum, with government involved only in protecting the rights of owners of spectrum just as as it protects the rights of owners of land, fishing and grazing rights, ground water, etc.?

What is special about the electromagnetic spectrum that should cause it to be considered the exclusive property of the state, to be allocated or revoked at its whim? Now, for frequencies which propagate over large distances, there will be a need for international coordination, but most of the action and controversy in recent decades has been over microwave spectrum allocations where these issues do not arise.


That is really cool!


Establishing a free market in conditions of oligopsony carries challenges of its own:

In April 1997, one of the auctions signaled something was wrong, as reported in The Economist. An auction expected to raise $1.8 billion only raised less than 1 percent of that amount, at $13.6 million. The FCC suspected the bids were rigged and the Department of Justice went to investigate.