Selling “thin air”: Spectrum management and regulation

Rethinking Regulation in a Connected Digital Environment – 2015 seminar

Selling “thin air”: Spectrum management and regulation

Rob Nicholls
Research Fellow, Centre for International Finance and Regulation, UNSW and Research Fellow, Swinburne University of Technology

Queensland University of Technology, 12:00pm to 2:00pm, April 20, 2015, Kelvin Grove Campus, A105

See attached flyer

Seminar Abstract:

Spectrum management policy presents an increasingly important regulatory challenge. In the last few years of the twentieth century, spectrum management problems were constructed as a model with the regulator using “command and control” powers and being told to rely on the market by economists and to rely on technology by engineers. Both the economists and engineers agreed that command and control was the wrong approach. However, in recent years the issues in spectrum management have become much more nuanced. Partly, this has been driven by the penetration of mobile services and the near ubiquitous use of mobile broadband in many (wealthy) countries. Partly, it has been driven by a dawning realisation of the problem of public benefit spectrum. Safe air travel relies on spectrum use being agreed on an international basis – regardless of whether the passenger manifest includes engineers, economists or both. It has also been tempered by the fact that the secondary markets in spectrum, which were the basis of market-based approaches, have not emerged.

Policy settings are complicated by states realising that spectrum is a valuable asset and, sometimes, setting the valuation higher than the market can bear. The spectrum that is “sold” is delivered as a type of property right but technological developments mean that some spectrum use requires exclusivity and some does not.
This presentation will examine some of the issues facing states as they try to develop policy responses that ensure that best use is made of spectrum. It will introduce some of the changed approaches to technology that have been driven by states’ pricing of spectrum and use the UK and Australia as examples of current spectrum management policy thinking.

Dr. Rob Nicholls is a Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology where he researches spectrum management policy. He is also a Research Fellow at the Centre for International Finance and Regulation where he is investigating the intersection of competition law and financial services regulation. He is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Law, Markets and Regulation at UNSW Australia Law. Rob is the Independent Telecommunications Adjudicator in a regime established to deal with wholesale disputes arising over both legacy services and migration to the NBN. He is an accredited mediator has had a thirty-year career concentrating on regulation and governance, particularly in networked industries. He has previously worked for Webb Henderson, the ACCC and Gilbert + Tobin.

RSVP by April 13 to Dr. Bonnie Liu, [email protected]
RSVP is essential, as light refreshments will be provided. For further information and booking, please email Dr. Bonnie Liu, [email protected]

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About Terry Flew

I am Professor of Media and Communication in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. I am the author of New Media: An Introduction, the fourth edition of which was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. I am also the author of Understanding Global Media, published by Palgrave in 2007, and The Creative Industries, Culture and Policy, published by Sage in 2012.