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The unfinished history of usage rights for spectrum

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The key task in the next stage of spectrum management is to adapt regulation to the prospect of widespread sharing, on a much more sophisticated basis than that phrase is used today. There is a role for the regulator to take steps to expand the area of choice within which public and private sector users can operate. This is best done in general by enhancing the flexibility of usage rights, which itself is best achieved by enhancing the freedom to trade them in the dimensions of time, space, level of interference and priority of access, by subdividing, re-aggregating etc. However, there are considerable 'transactions cost' impediments to trading where unlicensed users are involved. This creates a role for the regulator pro-actively to investigate different allocations, to make provisions for the most promising to occur and to incorporate in refarming exercises and in primary assignments based on auctions configurations of usage rights which might favour promising avenues of spectrum use.

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