Radio Spectrum and the Disruptive Clarity of Ronald Coase
In “The Federal Communications Commission,” Ronald Coase exposed deep theoretical foundations via normative argument. The government controlled scarce frequencies; spillovers were said to be otherwise endemic. Coase saw that regulators limited conflicts by restricting uses and that property owners routinely perform such functions via the price system. The fundamental insight was that analytical symmetry was demanded, accounting for the net benefits of both regulation and markets. Coase augured that the price system would outperform administrative allocation, a conclusion mocked by communications policy experts. Yet one specific slice of the Coasean program, competitive bidding for licenses, commenced at the Federal Communications Commission in 1994. Today, over 70 U.S. auctions have been held, 31,305 licenses sold, and $52.6 billion paid to the Treasury. The reform is a textbook example of economic policy success, even as it raises the question, why have market mechanisms not been further implemented in the spectrum allocation process?
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- Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1998.
"Synergies in Wireless Telephony: Evidence from the Broadband PCS Auctions,"
Papers of Peter Cramton
97jems, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
- Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1997. "Synergies in Wireless Telephony: Evidence from the Broadband PCS Auctions," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 497-527, 09.
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