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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: “Rethinking Institutions of Spectrum Management,” “Revisiting Spectrum Policy: Seven Years after the National Broadband Plan,” “Preparing for a 5G World,” “Making Waves: Alternative Paths to Flexible Use Spectrum,” “Spectrum for the Wired Network,” “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 Policy and the Future of Satellites.”  The Conference is generously supported by the attending sponsors of the 2018 Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program: Microsoft, AT&T, Comcast, Facebook, Charter, Google, National Association of Broadcasters, New Street Research, T-Mobile, Verizon, Walt Disney and Emmis.

This site displays the report that resulted from the 2018 Roundtable on Spectrum Policy convening that took place in Queenstown, MD, October 29-31, 2018.

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 a broad spectrum of ICT issues such as intelligence, broadband and spectrum policy, racial inclusion in communications, institutional innovation, and diplomacy and technology. It’s major activity for 2017-18 is conducting the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy. The program also runs a project on the future of public libraries.

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 is also a Vice President of the Aspen Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Firestone was a communications attorney and law professor who has argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court and many in the courts of appeals. 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.