Go read the speech

Michael Powell: Broadband Migration III: New Directions in Wireless Policy

The tip-off that this is important is the title. The Digital Broadband Migration series is Powell’s favorite set of speeches. And his thinking has evolved in the right direction over the past year. He nows says that “Sound spectrum policy is a central component of the great digital migration for all Americans.”

It gets better: “Modern technology has fundamentally changed the nature and extent of spectrum use. … I believe the Commission should continuously examine whether there are market or technological solutions that can – in the long run – replace or supplement pure regulatory solutions to interference.”

And the kicker: “…[S]o too must we question the continued utility of the pervasive scarcity assumption for spectrum-based services.” As I’ve written, the scarcity rationale the centerpiece of the outdated licensing model for spectrum policy. For an FCC Chairman to publicly call it into question is visionary and courageous. Of course, this doesn’t mean the open spectrum forces have won; not by a long shot. There are plenty of qualifications in Powell’s speech, and the hard work of turning these ideas into policy has just begun. But if we do succeed, we’ll remember this speech as a turning point in the fight to open up the airwaves as a fountain of innovation.