Unleashing the DTV Band, A Proposal for an Overlay Auction, Comment – NBP Public Notice #26

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Thomas W. Hazlett

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Federal Communications Commission’s digital television (DTV) transition is not nearly complete. The total bandwidth set aside for terrestrial digital video broadcasting — 49 channels allotted some 294 MHz — is worth over $100 billion in license value and at least ten times that amount in Consumer Surplus.2 But it contributes virtually nothing to society in its current configuration, a verdict that will not change if the FCC continues on its present path. The existing policy, which freezes TV stations in their current positions and then attempts to sprinkle in unlicensed devices in the “white spaces” surrounding them, blocks the flow of spectrum inputs to the wireless services consumers most desire to use.

Download the Hazlett Proposal [NBP_PublicNotice26_DTVBand.pdf]

Related Articles:

NYTimes article describing “Hazlett Plan:” The Buried Treasure in Your TV Dial: Richard Thaler, NYTimes (Feb. 27, 2010) explores Thomas Hazlett’s detailed proposal for devoting the TV spectrum to more productive uses and creating real value for the economy. (“Interested readers should examine a detailed proposal made to the F.C.C. by Thomas W. Hazlett, a professor at the George Mason University School of Law who was formerly the F.C.C.’s chief economist. Professor Hazlett estimates that selling off this spectrum could raise at least $100 billion for the government and, more important, create roughly $1 trillion worth of value to users of the resulting services.”).

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