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The Political Spectrum: Battling for Control of Wireless Technology

Better Regulation and Industrial Competitiveness

CEPS Conference Room
Place du Congrès 1 - 1000 Brussels

Free participation in our meetings is a benefit of CEPS membership. Non-members may be admitted for Euro 50, paid in cash at registration. Representatives from the European institutions (Commission – Parliament – Council – EEAS – Committee of the Regions - CESE) & members of the press benefit from free entrance, too. A sandwich lunch will be served from 12.30 onwards.

CEPS Event

The Political Spectrum: Battling for Control of Wireless Technology


Spectrum long has been a key battleground for control, first of radio and today of our mobile phones. Former Federal Communications Commission chief economist Thomas Hazlett has just published a remarkable history of the U.S. government’s regulation of the airwaves: “The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone.”

Popular legend has it that before the Federal Radio Commission was established in 1927, the radio spectrum was in chaos, with broadcasting stations blasting powerful signals to drown out rivals. Hazlett debunks the idea that the U.S. government stepped in to impose necessary order. Instead, regulators blocked competition at the behest of incumbent interests and, for nearly a century, have suppressed innovation while quashing out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints. Over decades, reforms to liberate the radio spectrum have generated explosive progress, ushering in the “smartphone revolution,” ubiquitous social media, and the amazing wireless world now emerging. Still, the author argues, the battle is not even half won.

Professor Hazlett will expand on this thesis during a special book presentation. He will also address the present debate in the U.S. over net neutrality and how the history of the battle for U.S. spectrum influenced European decisions.


Thomas W. Hazlett is the Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University where he also directs the Information Economy Project. Hazlett’s essays have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, and Time. He was a New Technology Policy Forum columnist for the Financial Times, 2002–2011. He is a founding partner of the consulting firm, Arlington Economics and serves as a Director of the Telecommunications Research Policy Conference. Born in Los Angeles, he graduated  from UCLA.


Daniel Gueorguiev, Public Policy Advisor, GMSA, Daniel represents industry on critical spectrum policy issues with the European institutions. Prior to joining the GSMA, he worked in Brussels as a public affairs consultant representing, among others; Intuit, Bloomberg, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s interest in Europe. Daniel has an Advanced Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy of the EU at the College of Europe (Bruges) and holds a double degree in Psychology and International Relations from McGill University.

Anthony Whelan is the Director of the Electronic Communications Networks & Services Directorate at the European Commission. A barrister, he has been a lecturer in public law at Trinity College Dublin. Before, he served as legal secretary in the chambers of an Advocate General at the European Court of Justice. He was Head of the Cabinet (private office) of EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes when she was commissioner for Competition, and later when she became commissioner for the Digital Agenda.

William Echikson William Echikson
William Echikson

Associate Senior Research Fellow and Head of Digital Forum

Speakers list
Thomas W. Hazlett

Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics, Clemson University