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Arnold Kling has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT; founded, one of the very first commercial websites, in 1994; separated from Homefair in January 2000 after it was sold to Homestore; is author of Under the Radar: Starting Your Internet Business without Venture Capital, and is an essayist. Send comments to us at

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February 13, 2004

Against Spectrum Commons

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Posted by Arnold

Stuart Minor Benjamin makes the case.

If spectrum were allocated in parcels of 100 megahertz, or even 200, there would be enough room for five or more competing abundant networks. In light of the benefits of competition, allowing for multiple networks seems to be
the wiser course.

I think that if all it takes is 100 or 200 megahertz to get a decent wireless Internet going, then it will happen faster if a private vendor is able to get hold of that much spectrum. I am not sure, however, that I can picture the scenario with five competing vendors. Consumers are going to want inter-operability. That means that at a minimum different vendors will have to co-operate.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: telecom, FCC


1. Ravi Nanavati on February 14, 2004 02:11 AM writes...

Not necessarily. If software-defined radio takes off then third-parties could create the interoperable radios without the cooperation of any network owner. They might have to reverse-engineer the protocols for each network (and I have no idea if the FCC's rules make sense in an SDR world), but it is technically plausible.

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