(p. A17) In 2004 the FCC moved to relax L-Band rules, permitting deployment of a terrestrial mobile network. Satellite calls would continue, but few were being made, and sharing frequencies with cellular devices made eminent sense. By 2010, L-Band licensee LightSquared was ready to build a state-of-the-art 4G network, and the FCC announced that the 40 MHz bandwidth would become available. LightSquared quickly spent about $4 billion of its planned $14 billion infrastructure rollout. Americans would soon enjoy a fifth nationwide wireless choice.
But in 2012 the FCC yanked LightSquared’s licenses. Various interests, from commercial airlines to the Pentagon, complained that freeing up the L Band could cause interference with Global Positioning System devices, since they are tuned to adjacent frequencies. Yet cheap remedies–such as a gradual roll-out of new services while existing networks improved reception with better radio chips–were available. In reality, the costliest spectrum conflicts emanate from overprotecting old services at the expense of the new. With its licenses snatched away, LightSquared instantly plunged into bankruptcy.
. . .
. . . regulatory impediments continue to block progress. Years after the L-Band spectrum was slated for productive use in 4G, it lies fallow–now delaying upgrades to 5G.
For the full commentary, see:
Thomas W. Hazlett. “How Politics Stalls Wireless Innovation; The FCC unveiled its National Broadband Plan in 2010–but couldn’t stick to it.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Oct. 2, 2017): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 1, 2017.)
The commentary, quoted above, is related to the author’s book:
Hazlett, Thomas W. The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.