I came across an interesting ex-parte letter to the Federal Communications Commission on the Verizon-Spectrum Co. deal. In the letter Public Knowledge is addressing the FCC’s spectrum screen, a tool the FCC uses to document where available spectrum is located. In the letter, Public Knowledge describes the screen as a tool that can help the FCC “maximize wireless competition.”
Maximize wireless competition? A government agency? The FCC?
The U.S. Department of Justice through its antitrust division may try to ensure competition by addressing market concentration, but even it cannot maximize competition. That’s not its job or the FCC’s.
To maximize competition the FCC would have to take on a command-and-control posture, telling the wireless industry how and where to price services; requiring that all participants share all market, pricing, and consumer information with each other; lower all barriers to market entry; and writing rules that keep zero economic profits at bay for a long enough to ensure that some predetermined number of competitors are in the industry before those profits are allowed to fall to zero.
That’s a tall order, Public Knowledge.