Balancing Equity and Efficiency Issues in the Management of Shared Global Radiocommunication Resources
Pennsylvania State University - College of Communications
December 7, 2002
This article will examine the merits of maintaining, revamping or abandoning the current administrative processes for managing international spectrum and satellite orbital slots. It will examine efficiency enhancing strategies including the use of competitive bidding and technological innovations that make it possible for more users with possibly different service requirements to share the same spectrum. Having considered the similarities and differences in satellites' spectrum use relative to earthbound uses, the article concludes that developing a market for orbital slots in lieu of the existing multilateral coordination and registration process would impose more costs and problems than benefits. The transborder technological characteristics of satellites raise sovereignty, equity and jurisdictional issues not triggered by economic and technological initiatives for terrestrial spectrum use. Accordingly, neither international, multilateral forums nor domestic policy making bodies can jettison the status quo and implement a competitive bidding model for all types of spectrum regardless of geographical coverage and transmission characteristics. In particular spectrum used for international satellite services and access to the orbital parking places used by satellites do not favor a complete migration to competitive bidding. Proponents of competitive bidding for spectrum have largely ignored the fact that many nations lie under a satellite transmission "footprint," treaty commitments foreclose national or private ownership of outer space resources and the likelihood that auctions would exacerbate parity of access disputes between developed and developing countries. The article concludes with recommendations on how domestic and international policy making forums can improve administrative processes, including the brokering of financial inducements to developing nations to refrain from opposing registrations of developed nations, and implementing technologies that promote interference free sharing.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46
Keywords: Spectrum management, satellites, spectrum commons, competitive bidding
JEL Classification: L96, L51, K23, K33
Date posted: February 24, 2003