Wireless Competition Rumble! Watch Me Take It To The Free Marketeers Where They Live — With Snacks to Follow!

Ho fellow policy wonks and spectrum geeks! Come watch me and occasional blog buddy (over at PK blog) Rob Frieden take on Arch Free Marketeers Thomas Hazlett and Joshua Wright at an epic, no holds barred, steel cage death match on competition in the wireless world. The Event, “The FCC’s Wireless Competition Report: A Preview” aka “The Wireless Competition Arlington Free-For-All” (because admission is free), will take place next Wednesday, May 18, 4-5:30 p.m., at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University (official announcement with all the info here).

More outrageously exaggerated prose describing the event below!

UPDATE: I initially had this down as being in Fairfax, rather than Arlington, because the GMU main campus is in Fairfax and I misread the event announcement (it is at 3351 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington). My bad.

As regular readers know, I have long maintained that wireless competition is damned complicated and not the uber-competitive wonderland the Free Marketeers and industry cheerleaders keep saying it is (although it’s not entirely a dismal swamp of monospony either, at least not yet). Rob Frieden, a professor at Penn State and one of the foremost experts in the area (i.e., he agrees with me) has also made his position clear. And so, the champions of Free Market ideology from their citadel at George Mason (official slogan: “We do NOT have Chiacgo School envy, who cares about their stupid Nobel prizes”) issued us this challenge. Come to our arena at the Mercatus Center and face us if you dare!

How could we turn down a challenge? True, they have the home field advantage and Thomas Hazlett, as those who have seen him in action know, is VERY LOUD. But we have truth on our side, and I can be EVEN LOUDER . The Free Market boys will argue that the plethora of players like Mighty MetroPCS (which AT&T claims it fears more than T-Mobile) and the not-yet-built-and-not-actually-a-direct-competitor-even-when-it-is-built Lightsquared show this market is so wildly competitive that the only reason the FCC could possibly have for not making an official finding of competition in its wireless report is part of a sinister agenda to socialize the public airwaves wireless industry and force everyone to go back to portable princess phones. But Frieden and I will be ready with our awesome, totally outrageous nuanced view of a more complex, interrelated market with several sectors undergoing significant concentration leading to cause for generalized concern about anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior ass-kicking counter-arguments.

And if this is not enough to drag you out to Arlington, Mercatus Center will have a reception with free snacks after the carnage. And if that’s still not enough to get you out to Arlington, you can watch online at Mercatus.org Because of the snacks, those panning to attend in person should RSVP to Megan Gandee at 703-993-4967 or mmahan@gmu.edu no later than May 16, 2011.

If you attend only one event this year, make it something fun. But if you’re a true policy wonk with a love spectrum policy and a ride to and from George Mason University, don’t miss the Wireless Competition Arlington Free-For-All!


Stay tuned . . . .


  1. It’s in Arlington. If they really told you to go to Fairfax, that’s low.

  2. Steve, thanks! Totally my bad. Have now updated to reflect actual location, although it loses the alliteration.

  3. Will audio or video of this cage match be made available afterwards?

  4. Is there a question box for (non-)attendees? If so, please drop this one in the hopper:

    I’ve oscillated between living in Italy and the US over the last couple decades. I’m not a wireless policy wonk so I’m having a hard time understanding a contrast I think I see between the two markets.

    Here in dirigiste Europe, seems to me that cell phones are sold unlocked (but still pretty cheap), wireless contracts don’t impose long commitments or confiscatory early termination penalties, and the EC has prevented carriers from rolling out incompatible systems, so everyone’s gear seems to work with everyone else’s within a given technology generation.

    Despite this anti-freedom agenda, prices — both subscriber and prepaid — seem cheaper than in good ole’ temple of “free markets” US, and I think I have a MUCH greater choice of carriers and terms and conditions. I also remember that Italy had substantially earlier mass adoption of wireless than the US.

    Am I simply mistaken in perceiving these differences? Or has careful regulation and an anti-trust regime with teeth somehow beaten the US’s “free market” (aka unfettered carrier concentration) in delivering earlier mass availability, better value, and more choice to its citizens?

    Sorry I can’t be there for a ringside seat … and the free refreshments.

  5. You don’t even need a ride to George Mason Univ – the Orange Line Claredon stop is a block or two away.

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