Vol. 8 (2012)

The Spectre of Spectrum: Public Interest Questions around Spectrum Management in India

Danish Sheikh

Public interest in spectrum allocation is not restricted to matters of access, but includes often ignored concerns regarding freedom of speech and expression. Drawing upon the history of media infrastructure cases in India, the author seeks to identify parallels between past cases involving infrastructure for newspapers and broadcasting media, and the present situation with spectrum being licensed for use by mobile service providers. The author also examines the public trust doctrine and its applicability keeping in mind that spectrum may be classified as a natural resource. Differing from the school of thought that believes the market must determine allocation of this natural resource, the author submits that a positioning of spectrum as commons rather than private property, buttressed by the use of open-access technology, is closer to the ideal use of spectrum for the public interest.

Author

Advocate, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore.