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Blog | AEI Ideas | Mark Jamison | September 26, 2017

Can markets give us more radio spectrum?

For years politicians (both Republicans and Democrats), regulators, telecom providers, and just about anyone who uses a cellular phone or Wi-Fi have been saying that the US needs more radio spectrum for commercial two-way communications. Steps are being taken — for example, the Federal Communications Commission conducted an incentive auction to move radio spectrum from broadcasting to two-way communications.

Beginning in the 1990s, the FCC began allocating for flexible use and broad geographic areas so that licensees did not have to come back to the agency for permission to switch uses. But as the case of Ligado Networks illustrates, there is still progress to be made.

Ligado Networks, a satellite company, wants to add terrestrial features that would make its service more like mobile radio. But its license says “satellite” and the company needs the FCC’s permission for a change. The company filed with the FCC for permission in late 2015, and interested parties have given their comments. The change to Ligado’s service could affect some GPS services, so Ligado has negotiated agreements with almost all of the affected companies. At least one company is waiting to see what the FCC decides.

Read the full blog on AEI Ideas here.

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