Thomas W. Hazlett, the Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics and Director of the Information Economy Project at Clemson University, discusses his new book, The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone. The conversation will be moderated by Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program Executive Director, Charlie Firestone.
The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program will also release its new report, Revisiting Spectrum Policy: Seven Years After the National Broadband Plan.
The event is open to the public.
About the Aspen Institute Spectrum Report:
Revisiting Spectrum Policy: Seven Years after the National Broadband Plan revisits the spectrum recommendations contained in a landmark 2009 report of the Federal Communications Commission setting forth a National Broadband Plan (NBP). That Plan is most remembered for its innovative recommendation that spectrum be repurposed from broadcasting to newer uses through the mechanism of an incentive auction, a process that took place in 2016-17. The intervening time has seen even more demand and new uses arise such as the need for spectrum for controlling drones and for billions of devices to communicate as part of the Internet of Things. In this context, the report provides recommendations for incorporating emerging technologies, considers various licensing approaches, and frames U.S. spectrum policy from a global perspective.
About the Book:
Popular legend has it that before the Federal Radio Commission was established in 1927, the radio spectrum was in chaos, with broadcasting stations blasting powerful signals to drown out rivals. In this fascinating and entertaining history, Thomas W. Hazlett, a distinguished scholar in law and economics, debunks the idea that the U.S. government stepped in to impose necessary order. Instead, regulators blocked competition at the behest of incumbent interests and, for nearly a century, have suppressed innovation while quashing out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints.
Hazlett details how spectrum officials produced a “vast wasteland” that they publicly criticized but privately protected. The story twists and turns, as farsighted visionaries—and the march of science—rise to challenge the old regime. Over decades, reforms to liberate the radio spectrum have generated explosive progress, ushering in the “smartphone revolution,” ubiquitous social media, and the amazing wireless world now emerging. Still, the author argues, the battle is not even half won.
About the Author:
Thomas W. Hazlett is the Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics, and Director of the Information Economy Project, at Clemson University. He has previously held faculty positions at George Mason University, the University of California, Davis, and the Wharton School, and has served as Chief Economist of the Federal Communications Commission. A noted expert in regulatory economics and information markets, his research has appeared in academic forums such as the Journal of Law & Economics, RAND Journal of Economics the Journal of Financial Economics and the Columbia Law Review. He has also written for such popular periodicals as The Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the New York Times, Business Week, and the Financial Times.