Podcast: “Emperor Ofcom’s New Clothes”—William Webb discusses his new book

Webb guides us through his critique of the free market spectrum policy approach and explains his roadmap for improving it.

| Richard Haas

Nearly 20 years ago, UK regulator Ofcom decided that relying on market forces was the best way to manage spectrum and ensure its efficient use. Professor William Webb, who at the time was the director of technology resources at Ofcom, was directly involved in setting this new course for spectrum policymaking.

Fast forward to today and Webb has teamed up with Professor Stephen Temple to take an axe to this strategy in a new book. It’s called Emperor Ofcom’s New Clothes—How the market approach to radio spectrum failed the country’s mobile infrastructure and how to turn it around.

In the latest episode of the PolicyTracker spectrum podcast, Webb discusses the book and explains why it is so critical of free market spectrum policies. He considers the drawbacks of spectrum auctions and annual licence fees and asks why spectrum trading never took off in the UK.

He also outlines his new vision for a change of course at Ofcom to one that is less focused on free market solutions and more focused on measurable outcomes.

Listen to the new podcast below. You can also find it on all major podcast platforms.


By | Richard Haas
Richard is a journalist and analyst at PolicyTracker. Apart from writing about spectrum policy news, his main responsibilities include maintaining the PolicyTracker Spectrum Database and the 5G Observatory website for the European Commission. Richard is fluent in English and German.
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