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Spectrum anarchy: why self-governance of the radio spectrum works better than we think

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2020

Pedro Bustamante*
Affiliation:
School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Marcela Gomez
Affiliation:
School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Ilia Murtazashvili
Affiliation:
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Martin Weiss
Affiliation:
School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
*
*Corresponding author. Email: pjb63@pitt.edu

Abstract

The exploitation of radio-electric spectrum bands for wireless transmission purposes has some features of the commons: it is subject to congestion and conflict without rules governing its use. The Coasean approach is to assign private property rights to overcome the tragedy of the spectrum commons. The process of assigning these rights is still centralized, with governments assigning property rights through agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the USA. We consider the possibility of self-governance of the spectrum. We use insights from the study of common pool resources governance to analyze the emergence of property rights to spectrum in a ‘government-less’ environment in which norms, rules, and enforcement mechanisms are solely the product of the repeated interactions among participants in the network. Our case study considers the spectrum-sharing arrangement in the 1,695–1,710 MHz band. Using agent-based modeling (ABM), we show that self-governance of the spectrum can work and under what conditions it is likely to improve the efficiency of the allocation of property rights.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Millennium Economics Ltd 2020

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