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What is Spectrum?

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Spectrum Policy (AIRS) is a continuing series of roundtable discussions attended by key decision makers from the telecommunications and information industries, user and consumer groups, academics, non-profit leaders, and representatives from federal, state, and local government. Expert participants from diverse disciplines and viewpoints exchange valuable insights, and develop innovative recommendations regarding spectrum policy.  Previous AIRS topics include: “Spectrum as a Resource for Enabling Innovation Policy,” “The Reallocation Imperative: A New Vision for Spectrum Policy,” “Spectrum for the Next Generation of Wireless,” and “Rethinking Spectrum Policy: A Fiber Intensive Wireless Architecture.” Over the years many notable participants, including Dick Green, Reed Hundt, Jon Leibowitz, Yochai Benkler, Eli Noam, Phil Weiser, David Redl, and Thomas Hazlett, and Larry Strickling have attended the Roundtable on Spectrum Policy.

The current Roundtable on Spectrum Policy topic is “Spectrum for the Wired Network.”  The Conference is generously supported by the attending sponsors of the 2013 Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program: AT&T, Cisco Systems, Comcast Corporation, Google, Liberty Global, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, National Association of Broadcasters, New Street Research, PCIA, Qualcomm, Time Warner Cable, T-Mobile USA, Inc., and Verizon Wireless.

This site displays the report that resulted from the 2013 Roundtable on Spectrum Policy convening that took place in Queenstown, MD, November 13-15.  The series of chapters, written by rapporteur Geoff Manne, synthesize the ideas that emerged from participants during the two-day dialogue, examine the feasibility of substituting wireless broadband for wired broadband and offer recommendations for how spectrum policy could solve challenges to bring broadband to rural Americans, improve public services and incentivize innovation through competition.

About the Communications and Society Program

The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields.  We provide a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy.  The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy.  Our activities focus on issues of open and innovative governance, public diplomacy, institutional innovation, broadband and spectrum management, as well as the future of content, issues of race and diversity, and the free flow of digital goods, services and ideas across borders.

Most conferences employ the signature Aspen Institute seminar format: approximately 25 leaders from diverse disciplines and perspectives engaged in roundtable dialogue, moderated with the goal of driving the agenda to specific conclusions and recommendations.  The program distributes our conference reports and other materials to key policymakers, opinion leaders and the public in the United States and around the world.  We also use the internet and social media to inform and ignite broader conversations that foster greater participation in the democratic process.

The Program’s Executive Director is Charles M. Firestone.  He has served in this capacity since 1989 and also as Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute.  Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, Mr. Firestone was a communications attorney and law professor who has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court.  He is a former director of the UCLA Communications Law Program, first president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, and an appellate attorney for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.