Next-Generation Digital Infrastructure & Spectrum Policy and the Future of Satellites

December 5, 2018  • Communications and Society Program

As 2018 comes to a close, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program invites you to join us as we celebrate and reflect over an exciting year marked by thoughtful, constructive discussions on a range of issues. The following “2018 Year In Review” series offers highlights from the various programs as well as insight into 2019 programming. For more information, please visit our homepage and/or follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Advances in information communication technologies are accelerating and providing greater penetration, new services and connectivity to the world. Yet, federal, state and local governments still face conflicts on what entity should regulate the deployment and management of these converged digital technologies and in what ways.

The 33rd annual Conference on Communications Policy took place in August 2018 and explored regulatory structures to incentivize the deployment of communications infrastructure to unserved areas, and ways to promote competition and protect consumers on the internet. Participants discussed policies to promote consumer trust and strategies to accelerate the public use and safe enjoyment of communications technologies, infrastructure and services. Leaders including regulators, policymakers, communication policy scholars, telecommunications business executives, and public-interest leaders explored questions around three subject areas:

  • Incentives for investment
  • Regulatory structures
  • Competition and consumer protection

From the premises of convergence, outmoded silos of regulation, and multiple overlapping jurisdictions at the federal, state and local levels, conference participants proposed a series of recommendations to better align regulation of communications for the foreseeable future.

Our annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Spectrum Policy (AIRS) examined similar concerns with regards to regulation. The AIRS roundtable centered on the tensions between satellite use of spectrum and terrestrial uses and addressed pressing issues about spectrum policy as it relates to the future of satellites. Leaders in the satellite and communications policy field discussed such questions as:

  1. What new approaches should policy-makers consider in relation to sharing of satellite and terrestrial spectrum?
  2. What provisions prevent the highest and best uses of spectrum?
  3. And who should manage the possible shared usage?

Recommendations from the roundtable include strategies to address competition and cooperation, flexible use and sharing, and license rights and interference standard.

The Communications Policy Conference report written by Carol Mattey will be available in early 2019. The AIRS report will be written by Doug Brake and will be published mid-2019.  Please check back to learn how to receive your copy or visit