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What We Have Here Is Failure to Communicate

November 09, 2003

Re "Technology Gets in Its Own Way," Nov. 4: Your basic premise is wrong: Lawyers, economists, bureaucrats, politicians and powerful interest groups are tripping up a rational and interference-free use of the radio spectrum, not technology.

The Federal Communications Commission long ago lost its will to plan and control the spectrum to avoid radio interference, of which you have reported only a small tip of the iceberg. At one time technical competence was an important qualification of the commissioners; now that is a rarity and definitely not a requirement. Add to this the totally separate management of the FCC and of the government spectrum, and we have a mess, or should I say mixture, found nowhere else in the developed world.

The public pays a high price for this, which is not dissimilar from the "benefits" of California electric power deregulation. One good example is inferior cellphone performance; another is the hegemony by broadcasters over unused but very valuable bandwidth. There is no relief in sight; it will get much worse under the current structure.

Wayne Longman

Palm Desert

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