Keywords: spectrum management, digital dividend, auctions
Spectrum is a scarce resource that enables high-value communications services. Spectrum frequencies have a relevant economic value both for communications operators (e.g, broadcasters and telecoms) and for Governments. The transition to digital television transmission (DTT) creates the opportunity of revising the actual allocation and use of spectrum and of enhancing its efficiency. The fairly large amount of spectrum that will be freed up in the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV is known as the "Digital Dividend". A fair and balanced reallocation of this spectrum between different uses (including mobile broadband) could ensure that society reaps the full social and economic benefits of the digital dividend. In this paper we first account for some international experiences on the digital dividend in the EU and US. We then comment on the current state of play in Italy. Notwithstanding the recent spectrum planning proposal by the Italian Regulatory Authority ( June 2010) that introduces the possibility of alternative uses of the digital dividend for non-TV services, it emerges that national broadcasters have benefited over-proportionally of the spectrum released by the digital dividend and that the Government is still vague in the decision to leave this dividend entirely to broadcasters (national and local) or open it to alternative uses.