And that underscores a third point — markets work, and we second-guess them at our peril. Today, it’s hard to imagine how wireless would leave you unable to perform these functions on a tablet or phone.
And, more importantly, we’re going to see a steady stream of functions that are or were thought to be only available over a wired connection because that’s what people want. That’s what markets do — they guide innovation and business development to consumer needs. Wireless speeds are going to improve because consumers are giving companies that signal — and companies will respond because, as Willie Sutton reportedly said years ago about robbing banks, “that’s where the money is.”
As the administration and Federal Communications Commission think their way through various regulatory ideas — net neutrality, common carriage or restrictions on who can and can’t participate in new spectrum auctions — they should keep that lesson in mind. If we want to promote wireless innovation, then make more spectrum available, let those willing to pay for it buy it, and stand back and watch what happens.
Ev Ehrlich is a former undersecretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration, president of ESC Co. and a fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute.