Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The U.S. Government Will NOT Be Undersold...

The government auctioned off the wireless spectrum to various communications companies for $19 billion. That sounds like a huge sum, and I believe, somewhere down the line—when the communications industry is good and ready for us to do so—the public will benefit from this auction. But, especially with this administration in charge, I fear that the big long-term beneficiaries will be the communications industry and that they've walked away with an enormous deal.

As I read the article, I couldn't help but think of the Rural Electrification Act during the Great Depression. In that instance, the government required that utilities provide electrical power to every home in the U.S., even though the utilities believed that they would lose money by doing so in rural areas. It's amazing to think that there was a time when our government believed that its responsibility to the public was at least as great as its responsibility to business. I'm sure that there have been other occurrences like that in recent years—possibly even during the Bush administration (no, really)—but I can't think of any. Incidentally, I think we all know that the utilities did not lose money on rural electrification...

It's possible that the public will benefit from this as much as the telecomms. Call me skeptical. I'd write my representative but, frankly, I'm not sure what to say to them other than: "Don't screw us over!"

I found a fairly thorough pre-auction FAQ on the subject here, if you're interested in more data.

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