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Offlinewilshire
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libertarian radio
    #4941499 - 11/16/05 02:10 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

what is the libertarian, or lasseiz faire capitalist or whatever, approach to regulating broadcasting over the electromagnetic spectrum?


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OfflineGuerrilla0726
Bringer ofChange
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: wilshire]
    #4942309 - 11/16/05 06:23 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

To not have the government censor anything or determine ownership of the radio.

gov't should force equal ownership so there are no lopsided views


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OfflineAncalagon
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: wilshire]
    #4942384 - 11/16/05 06:35 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

The following is from For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray N. Rothbard, and pertains to the history of the regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum. It purports to show that regulation was in the first place not neccesary -- it does not, on the other hand, show how the spectrum would endure and function were government regulation ended tomorrow. Some sources regarding that (Rothbard suggestions) will be included at the bottom. Not a topic I've looked into or researched so pasting this is the best I can do.

Chapter 6: Personal Liberty

Freedom of Radio and Television

    ... Most people believe that this is precisely the reason the airwaves were nationalized; that before the Radio Act of 1927, stations interfered with each other's signals and chaos ensued, and the federal government was finally forced to step in to bring order and make a radio industry feasible at last. But this is historical legend, not fact. The actual history is precisely the opposite. For when interference on the same channel began to occur, the injured party took the airwave aggressors into court, and the courts were beginning to bring order out of the chaos by very successfully applying the common law theory of property rights?in very many ways similar to the libertarian theory?to this new technological area. In short, the courts were beginning to assign property rights in the airwaves to their "homesteading" users. It was after the federal government saw the likelihood of this new extension of private property that it rushed in to nationalize the airwaves,using alleged chaos as the excuse.

    To describe the picture a bit more fully, radio in the first years of the century was almost wholly a means of communication for ships?either ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore messages. The Navy Department was interested in regulating radio as a means of ensuring safety at sea, and the initial federal regulation, a 1912 act, merely provided that any radio station had to have a license issued by the Secretary of Commerce. No powers to regulate or to decide not to renew licenses were written into the law, however, and when public broadcasting began in the early 1920s, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover attempted to regulate the stations. Court decisions in 1923 and 1926, however, struck down the government's power to regulate licenses, to fail to renew them, or [p. 102] even to decide on which wavelengths the stations should operate.2 At about the same time, the courts were working out the concept of "homestead" private property rights in the airwaves, notably in the case of Tribune Co. v. Oak Leaves Broadcasting Station (Circuit Court, Cook County, Illinois, 1926). In this case the court held that the operator of an existing station had a property right, acquired by prior use, sufficient to enjoin a new station from using a radio frequency in any way so as to cause interference with the signals of the prior station.3 And so order was being brought out of the chaos by means of the assignment of property rights. But it was precisely this development that the government rushed in to forestall.

    The 1926 Zenith decision striking down the government's power to regulate or to fail to renew licenses, and forcing the Department of Commerce to issue licenses to any station that applied, produced a great boom in the broadcasting industry. Over two hundred new stations were created in the nine months after the decision. As a result, Congress rushed through a stopgap measure in July 1926 to prevent any property rights in radio frequencies, and resolved that all licenses should be limited to ninety days. By February 1927 the Congress passed the law establishing the Federal Radio Commission, which nationalized the airwaves and established powers similar to those of the current FCC. That the aim of the knowledgeable politicians was not to prevent chaos but to prevent private property in the airwaves as the solution to chaos is demonstrated by the legal historian H. P. Warner. Warner states that "grave fears were expressed by legislators, and those generally charged with the administration of communications . . . that government regulation of an effective sort might be permanently prevented through the accrual of property rights in licenses or means of access, and that thus franchises of the value of millions of dollars might be established for all time."4 The net result, however, was to establish equally valuable franchises anyway, but in a monopolistic fashion through the largesse of the Federal Radio Commission and later FCC rather than through competitive homesteading.


"The best and most fully elaborated portrayal of how private property rights could be assigned in radio and television is in A. DeVany et al., "A Property System for Market Allocation of the Electromagnetic Spectrum: A Legal-Economic-Engineering Study," Stanford Law Review (June 1969). See also William H. Meckling, "National Communications Policy: Discussion," American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings (May 1970), pp. 222-23. Since the DeVany article, the growth of community and cable television has further diminished the scarcity of frequencies and expanded the range of potential competition."


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?When Alexander the Great visted the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: 'Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.' It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.?
-Henry Hazlitt in 'Economics in One Lesson'


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Ancalagon]
    #4943281 - 11/16/05 09:31 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

I don't know about the libertarian answer, but as a Georgist, I'd point out that ownership of any given frequency of the broadcast spectrum creates rents for the owner, just like the land rents that come from private land ownership. So as with land, we could simply tax people for their appropriation of broadcast frequencies.


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Offlinenonick
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Silversoul]
    #4943557 - 11/16/05 10:22 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

like everything else, rights to use the spectrum should be owned.

http://www.libertarianthought.com/articles/discovery.html

that is the proper way to deal with ownership of "particular and obscure" objects, as the author puts it.


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: nonick]
    #4943602 - 11/16/05 10:29 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

I agree that private ownership may be necessary to prevent a tragedy of the commons, but as with land, one should have to pay back to society the rental value of this natural resource that is fixed in supply.


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OfflineSolutarch
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Silversoul]
    #4943628 - 11/16/05 10:33 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

How about leasing it out for a percentage of the profits?


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Solutarch]
    #4943650 - 11/16/05 10:36 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

I think just charging the rental value is enough. If you charge them a percentage of the profits, then you're taking money that they earned themselves. But if you charge them the rental value, then you're just charging them the amount that they would have otherwise gotten just by virtue of owning the frequency.


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OfflineSolutarch
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Silversoul]
    #4943767 - 11/16/05 10:54 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

How do you determine rental value? Do you place portions of the spectrum up for rental bids every year?


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Solutarch]
    #4943796 - 11/16/05 11:00 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

Solutarch said:
How do you determine rental value? Do you place portions of the spectrum up for rental bids every year?



No. Rents can be determined by determining the market value of owning a piece of the spectrum. How valuable it is will depend on supply and demand.


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OfflineSolutarch
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: Silversoul]
    #4943836 - 11/16/05 11:08 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

Real Estate appraisers base their best estimates on the sales prices of similar properties sold. Unless you sell rights to portions of a spectrum (I would make it time dependent, as in a lease or rental), I don't see how you can determine the market value. So I would tentatively say that putting portions up for bid every year would probably be the best method of determining market value.


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Offlinephi1618
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: nonick]
    #4946282 - 11/17/05 02:08 PM (15 years, 3 months ago)

Right to use frequency should not be owned, because with modern technology many people can profitably share the same frequncy ranges in a given area. Interference is an artifact of the technology we use, rather than an inherent limitation of the em spectrum.

Rather than comapring bandwidth to land, it makes more sense to compare it to the ocean; does it make sense to have people own the exclusive right to use an area of water for commerce or transport? No, because people can more profitably share the resource.

Right now, however, the government and corporations have exclusive rights to the best portions of the spectrum. Other people and devices cannot use those areas of spectrum, even if their intended use would not interfere with the existing applications. As a result, one of the best resources available to people is hugely underexploited. Far more information can be transmitted in each television channel than is right now - by many orders of magnitudes - without interference. This is how they will transmit digital television signals over the same bandwidth as is now used for analog signals without disrupting the existing analog signals - even then, the resource will be vastly underutilized.

The present system, which is not so different than property rights, made sense in the 1920s but no longer makes sense. Rather than giving people the exclusive right to use certain portions of the em spectrum, the government should set rules and standards as to how devices should interact with one another.

If the laws are changed in this manner, we will see a golden age of innovation - the effects on our lives will be larger than the effect of cell phones and the internet combined. This is because bandwidth will no longer be a scarce resource - everyone will have huge channels available to anyone else no matter where they are.

We have the technology to make this a reality; what's holding us back is outdated regulations which treat the em spectrum like property. The laws should be changed in a manner that allows current license holders to continue using the em spectrum in the manner that they are currently and which prevents other people from interfering with those uses, but which allows devices to be designed to use the best regions of spectrum, which are currently monopolized by outdated technologies - radio and TV.

The notion of property rights is very powerful, but there are certain things - air, for one example, use of the em spectrum for another - for which it makes no sense.


You can read more about this idea by searching "open spectrum" on google.


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Offlinephi1618
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: phi1618]
    #4949920 - 11/18/05 03:36 AM (15 years, 3 months ago)

A couple years back, there was signifcant discussion on this issue as the FCC looked to change it's regulation. It's been quiet more recently, but this is still an important issue.


I may have overstated the case, but I do strongly support treating more of the spectrum as commons, and allowing non-interfering uses of licensed (or "owned") frequencies.

Compare WiFi with TV. WiFi opperates in the same unlicensed 2.4Gz and 5Gz bands as other, older devices, like cordless phones and garage door openers. TV has exclusive access to huge swaths of high-quality bandwidth for each chanell. The frequencies used by TV are much harder to block - they can travel further on the same power, and aren't generally blocked by a brick wall.


Freqency ownership is a step forward in some ways from the old-fashioned command-and-controll FCC frequency licensing, but could impede progress to common access to frequencies. Just look at the devices which are now flourishing in the very low quality unlicenced portions of the spectrum, and imagine what would be possible if the higher quality frequencies were opened up to multiple uses, unencumbered by the necessity for a taxing mechanism. (ie. a frequency owner could, for example, charge a fee for people using devices in their area, but this would require some centrallized mechanism to record who does what, and find cheaters - which could easily be more difficult than making the devices themselves.)

Here's an editorial on the subject from the Economist:
Quote:

Economics focus

Freeing the airwaves
May 29th 2003
From The Economist print edition


Should radio spectrum be treated as property, or as a common resource?

WHAT is the best analogy for radio spectrum? Is it, as most people intuitively believe, a palpable resource like land, best allocated through property rights that can be bought and sold? Or is it, thanks to technological progress, more like the sea, so vast that it doesn't need to be parcelled out (at least for shipping traffic), in which case general rules on how boats should behave are enough to ensure that it is used efficiently.

Wireless folk have been discussing these questions for some time. Now, regulators are starting to take an interest, because increasing demands for wireless services require more efficient use of the spectrum. Earlier this month, America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to allow leasing and trading of frequency licences?the property model?as a first step towards establishing a market in radio spectrum. However, when regulators meet for the World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva, starting on June 9th, they will try to harmonise their plans to expand the part of the spectrum that can be used without a licence, treating it as a common resource.

These two different regulatory models are already competing across the airwaves. On the one hand, telecoms companies have spent vast sums on licences for third-generation (3G) wireless services?but are facing serious financial and technical obstacles to building networks. On the other, there are already many wireless local access networks, called WiFi, which operate in unlicensed spectrum?and are growing at a phenomenal rate.

The question of how best to allocate spectrum is not new. Over 40 years ago Ronald Coase, who won the Nobel prize for economics in 1991, argued that there is no reason why spectrum should be treated differently from, for example, land. Both are scarce?so a market is the best way to allocate their use. Although this seems blindingly obvious today, it took the FCC more than two decades to start auctioning radio frequencies.

The debate has since moved on. Auctions alone are now considered unsatisfactory, because they do not change the traditional structure of spectrum allocation. And even after last month's reforms allowing leasing and trading, the FCC remains a dirigiste bureaucracy which decides, in most cases, how the spectrum is divvied up, who gets which slice, and for what use.

So what is the best way to replace this command-and-control regime? Proponents of the property approach want to create, as soon as possible, a market in which rights to spectrum blocks can be freely traded?rather in the way that pollution rights now are. Some have already drawn up plans for a ?big bang?: a giant simultaneous auction of as much spectrum as possible.

Hold hard, say the advocates of common access. If spectrum were scarce by some law of nature, they argue, selling licences would certainly be the best solution. But in fact it is scarce only in terms of old, clunky technology. When radio equipment needed ?channels?, defined by frequency and power, to allow communication without interference, airwaves were indeed a scarce resource.

Now, however, thanks to the dramatic decline in the cost of computer power, wireless devices are far cleverer, meaning that they can use spectrum more efficiently and are more tolerant of interference. They are able to communicate over a broad range of frequencies at once (this is called ?spread spectrum?), to help each other out (?mesh networks?) and to adapt to the local environment (?agile radio?). Instead of creating a spectrum market, argues Yochai Benkler, a law professor at New York University, it should now be possible to rely on the market in smart radio equipment without anybody having to control the airwaves.

Technological progress is not the only reason why spectrum markets would be a second-best solution, Mr Benkler argues. For one, they are likely to come with high transaction costs. If spectrum is priced efficiently in an increasingly dynamic wireless world, the necessary overhead in network management and metering is likely to be quite costly. Innovation could suffer as well: rights holders could ignore technological improvement just because it does not fit their business model. With spectrum as commons, anybody can innovate, as users do on the internet.

Keeping the options open

Despite their differences, the two camps agree that they do not have enough hard data to bet everything on one regime: they must experiment with both. David Farber and Gerald Fulhaber, telecoms professors at the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, want a big-bang auction. But they also want to let others use spectrum freely, as long as they do not ?meaningfully? interfere with the owner's right to a clear broadcast.

Despite its recent move toward a spectrum market, the FCC too prefers a hybrid approach, saying in a recent report that ?no single regulatory model should be applied to all spectrum?. Early last year, it authorised systems using a technology called ultra-wideband to operate at very low power to avoid interference. The agency is also looking into expanding the part of the spectrum for which no licence is needed.

If experiences in other areas of technology are any guide, there is a good chance that both approaches will be around for some time, although the commons solution may eventually come to dominate. The internet, at least from the perspective of the end-user, is a common resource, with bandwidth allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. In software, the commons is growing, in the form of free open-source programs developed by volunteers.

Technology may thus help to create markets; but it also makes some of them obsolete. In this case it has turned land into sea, metaphorically speaking. To draw a historical parallel: the development of better ships did not lead to parcelling up the world's oceans but to something called free trade.




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Offlinephi1618
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Re: libertarian radio [Re: phi1618]
    #4949979 - 11/18/05 04:07 AM (15 years, 3 months ago)

To give an idea of the potential of unlicenced spectrum, here is the US frequency allocation chart:
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.pdf


WiFi, bluetooth, phones, garrage door openers... all operate in the narrow band of frequency from 2400-2487 MHz. This range of microwave frequencies is easily blocked, and also suffers excess noise from microwave ovens and amature radio stations which are permitted to broadcast at much higher power than WiFi and other new devices.

Broadcast TV, on the other hand, has fat, high-quality (radio, not microwave) bands at 54-72, 76-88, 147-216, 512-608, 614-698. Any of these bands has the potential to carry more information over greater distances than the 2.4 GHz band.

There are other frequency bands designated as "amature" on the chart, but I suspect they are more heavily regulated than the 2400-2487 band.


Basically, the present system is now resulting in the vast underutilization of the best frequency ranges. Ownership is not the answer because cheap processing power enables many devices to operate in the same frequency ranges without interferance.

In addition, ultra wide-band transmission is a very promissing technology where a transmitter sends a very short burst of data spread over a wide range of frequencies, which enables large amounts of data to be transferred without messing up other people trying to use the same frequencies. Clearly, this technology is incompatable with property rights in the em spectrum.


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