Good Copps Bad Copps

This Tuesday, CNet’s Anne Broache reported that FCC Commissioner Copps was NOT ready to supportnew rules requiring wireless carriers to open their networks to whatever devices or programs their customers desire.”

On Wednesday, the story was updated:

Update at 10:05 a.m. PST Wednesday: A Copps aide called us on Wednesday to say that his boss didn’t intend to give the impression that he opposes new regulations on the wireless industry. He pointed us to a sentence in Copps’ speech (PDF) in which the Democratic commissioner said he would “enthusiastically support” the FCC’s declaration of “general principles for open wireless platforms” at any time. Copps did then go on to say, as we reported Tuesday, that he would not “strongly object” to industry-led initiatives, “at least for now.”

Regardless of the subtleties of commissioner speak, however, open access rules are just another short term solution to a long term problem. Open access, net neutrality, and other proposals ignore the real problem with the wireless communications market in America–there isn’t one.

Sure, we have a market for broadcast towers, radio receivers, satellite radio, RC cars, and a host of other devices, but the spectrum that those devices used are controlled by the FCC, the commissars of broadcast technology.

The commissioners are knowledgeable and I don’t doubt that most of the time they are acting in the public interest, but the same was true for whomever the politburo selected to plan the distribution of steel in the USSR. Bureaucrats of expertise and virtue can’t outwit the marketplace, especially the high-tech marketplace.

Free trading of spectrum would allow the right airwaves to be paired with the best technology to utilize them–best not according to some bureaucrat, but by the measure of market value.

For more on the FCC and open access, check out my response to CNet piece at