This article argues that new technologies (such as spread spectrum and ultra-wideband) make the idea of divisible allocations of the spectrum obsolete. Thus, we should consider regulating the spectrum, at least for some frequency bands, as a “common pool regime,” in which local communities of spectrum users would decide what rules and allocations governed local spectrum usage, and in which at least some areas of the spectrum would be open to all users on an equal basis. To support the feasibility of such a regime, the author draws extensively on the vast literature—anthropological, sociological, political, and game-theoretic—that describes the workings and characteristics of successful commons throughout the world. The conclusion is that a common pool regime would not only be feasible, but might be the most efficient property allocation system for a great deal of the electromagnetic spectrum.
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