Not my social planner!

Not my social planner!

One would hope that the FCC, when making the difficult determination on how best to launch 4.9 GHz in the future, will rely on facts, but not unsubstantiated facts. Maybe I’m missing something. I’m sorry. I just don’t understand how you can state with a straight face that if the FCC were to “centralize management of the ‘dormant’ 4.9 GHz band within FirstNet as the national band manager that it could boost the gross domestic product by $34 Billion” and along the way “create 162,000 jobs.”  I’m not going to drink the Kool Aid. 

The think tank Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies (PCALEPPS) recently released a study advising that handing over the band to FirstNet would be the best thing since round doorknobs. The PCALEPPS also stated unabashedly that the band is virtually dormant (a statement sure to please PSSA but not APCO and NPSTC), that a decentralized spectrum management structure acts as a tax on spectrum users, and that FirstNet and AT&T funded the 700 MHz First Responder Network Authority. These assertions stretch reality. AT&T provided capital and infrastructure, but FirstNet received billions of taxpayer funding.  Let’s give the American people some credit here! If you are wondering who would potentially benefit from this study, PCALEPPS took a gratuitous shot at Verizon noting in a footnote that “Verizon discourages the centralized management of the band perhaps a ‘sour grapes’ position reflecting Verizon’s failure to get the FirstNet Authority contract.”  Why was that necessary other than to forestall objections from one of FirstNet’s prime competitors who would be harmed by such a move?”

And then there is the following that added significant clarity to the study’s findings. According to PCALEPPS, “A benevolent social planner would allocate the scarce spectrum across the two markets to maximize total surplus or benefits. Formally, the social planner would solve:  

I’m not sure that all social planners could solve this equation. Maybe a few. Very few. But none that I know!

You might ask who paid for this study, but PCALEPPS doesn’t take payment for their papers. They do accept donations. Let me see.  Who would provide a donation for such a one-sided study since it seems improbable that PCALEPPS woke up one morning and decided, “We really need to write a paper on the future management of 4.9 GHz.”   I’ll take a vowel and two capital T’s.