March 16, 2022

Communications TowerOn Tuesday, March 15, 2022, the Law and Technology Institute (LTI) hosted the Dean William Callyhan Robinson Lecture Series, featuring Catholic Law alumna Megan Stull ’03, President of the Federal Communications Bar Association and Senior Counsel at Google. The program, “ Stewardship of the Airwaves in the Digital Age,” focused on wireless spectrum — a scarce yet vitally important resource — and how ongoing public policy debates are, at their core, advocacy for how best to share the resource over the long term for the best societal returns.

Co-director of LTI, Professor Elizabeth Winston, opened the virtual event, welcoming those in attendance. Following a brief explanation of the lecture series and the legacy of the Law School’s first dean, William Callyhan Robinson, Winston introduced Stull and her work, then turned the floor over to Stull to lead the evening’s virtual discussion.

Stull began her lecture by reviewing the basics of spectrum — explaining what it is, its different uses, and how it is regulated. With its scarcity and high demand for use, two factors that have been acknowledged since the 1940s, Stull noted that sharing seems to be the solution and that utilizing policy tools and good stewardship are paramount to making it work. Stull then introduced classic versus dynamic spectrum sharing and used a few case studies to highlight the different types of sharing architecture. Stull concluded by looking toward the future of spectrum sharing, emphasizing the need for effective and ongoing stewardship. Following the lecture, Stull took questions from those in attendance, further exploring how law students who are interested in spectrum and the surrounding debates can get involved, who the major players in inventing sharing systems are, and participation in spectrum auctions.

About the event, third-year law student Joseph Kane shared, "Ms. Stull gave a clear explanation of U.S. spectrum regulation and the physics underlying wireless communications. She also proposed that the future of spectrum management requires sharing with special reference to dynamic sharing systems, their limitations, and their promise for the future. Special attention was given to case studies of TV whitespaces, 3.5 GHz, and 6 GHz. Stull’s overall framework emphasized stewardship as a means to make spectrum as available as possible to all users."

The Dean William Callyhan Robinson Lecture Series is named for the founding dean of Catholic Law in 1895. Dean Robinson was a deeply influential person in the law — having been a dean, a law professor, a legal scholar, and a judge.