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Ex-FCC Chief Economist, Nobel Winner Call for White Space Auction

Two big-league economists have taken issue with Google’s “Free the Airwaves" campaign and are calling for the FCC to auction off the unused DTV channels known as white spaces.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, former FCC Chief Economist Thomas Hazett and Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith say the TV spectrum has enormous amounts of unused spectrum. But the best way to develop applications on those spectrums is for the bandwidth to be owned.

“Google's proposal would actually freeze the airwaves allocated to television prior to World War II,” the two write. “Innovative services would be lost for yet another generation.”

The economists say the unused TV band could generate $1 trillion in wireless activity if administered correctly.

The pair scoff at the FCC tests of spectrum-sensing technologies and the unlicensed white space regime recommended by many high-tech companies.

“That this gambit has wasted six years is the bad news,” they say. “The even worse news is that were the FCC to ‘succeed,’ approving devices for unlicensed use of the band, it would squander any opportunity to reorganize the band and unleash its vast utility.”