Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

59 Federal Communications Law Journal 457 (2007)


Symposium: The Crisis in Public Safety Communications. Held at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, December 8, 2006.

Lack of public safety communications interoperability is the result of what economist Mancur Olson called a collective action problem. In this case, the collective action problem that first responders face is caused by the federal policy of allocating and assigning public safety spectrum in a way that segregates first responders to their own bands and ultimately Balkanizes their radio systems. This Article shows that market forces can be employed to solve collective action problems, and it surveys several successful commercial interoperable communications networks in the U.S. and Europe that are shared by first responders and private customers.