The Unfinished Radio Revolution: New Approaches to Handling Wireless Interference

Friday, November 12, 2010, 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
@ The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Washington, DC

Post-Event Coverage

For a report summarizing the conference written by Matthew Montgomery Click Here

For a report summarizing the post event roundtable discussion written by Kaleb Sieh Click Here

The position papers written for this event have been published in the Spring 2011 issue of the journal JTHTL (PDF)


To view video recordings of the event, click here.

Co-sponsored by IEEE-USA, ITIF, CTIA, New America Foundation, and FCBA

Change is in the air: there are likely to be significant new spectrum allocations as a result of the National Broadband Plan, and the march of technology keeps offering new ways to increase the capacity of wireless systems.

However, the revolution begun by the end of "command and control" radio licensing and the shift to a more hands-off regime of flexible-use auctioned licenses and unlicensed operation is incomplete. For example, while there's wide agreement on the importance of flexible use, the debate over the merits of property rights vs. open access have left largely untouched the important matter of defining the optimal operating permissions and governance regime for any new allocations.

This half-day conference addresses a key unanswered question: How should radio operating rights be defined, assigned and enforced in order to obtain the maximum benefit from wireless operations?

There are clearly problems with cross-channel interference between diverse services. This event is a follow-on to a small-group summit on cross-channel interference at Silicon Flatirons last year that analyzed some of the thorny cases that have arisen (background and report here). Inter-licensee conflict is greatest across boundaries of different uses, and the increasing diversity of radio uses and users will amplify this problem. The definition of cross-channel rights and responsibilities has, to date, been ad hoc; this approach is no longer sustainable given the increasing diversity of uses and users, and the need to pack operations ever closer together in order to meet the demand for wireless capacity.

This meeting brings together leading economic and legal thinkers to reframe the discussion and grapple with the neglected questions:

  • Not just debating licenses vs. sharing vs. collective use, but designing an optimum rights regime for whichever of these modes is used
  • Not just who should share with whom, but the rules, rights and procedures that would govern and motivate sharing
  • Not just whether spectrum is being used efficiently today, but what kinds of rights and processes would motivate the most intensive use.

Leading scholars and practitioners will advance their proposals, and debate them in two panel discussions. Position papers from each of the presenters will be distributed at the event, and made available on this web site before the event. A streaming video feed will be provided.

Registration and Breakfast
8:30am - 9:00am
9:00am - 9:10am
The Technical and Commercial Challenge, and a Policy Response
9:10am - 9:40am
  • Pierre de Vries
    Spectrum Initiative Co-Director
    Senior Fellow
    Silicon Flatirons
  • Dale Hatfield
    Spectrum Initiative Co-Director
    Senior Fellow
    Silicon Flatirons
    Adjunct Professor
    University of Colorado
Panel 1
9:45am - 11:10am
  • Michael Calabrese
    Senior Research Fellow
    New America Foundation
  • Ellen Goodman
    Rutgers University Law School
  • Bruce Jacobs
    Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  • Evan Kwerel
    Office of Plans and Policy
    Federal Communications Commission
  • Gregory Rosston
    Deputy Director and Senior Fellow
    Director, Public Policy Program
    Stanford University
Panel 2
11:15am - 12:20pm
12:20pm - 12:30pm
  • Pierre de Vries
    Spectrum Initiative Co-Director
    Senior Fellow
    Silicon Flatirons

Background Reading

Ellen Goodman (2004). Spectrum Rights in the Telecosm to Come. San Diego Law Review 41 (269). Available Here

The four-paper debate between Philip J Weiser and Dale Hatfield, and Thomas Hazlett (2008). 15 George Mason Law Review 549-609, 975-1023, 1025-1030 and 1031-1039

Pierre de Vries (2009). Defining Inter-channel Operating Rules: A report on a Silicon Flatirons Summit on Information Policy, 8 September 2009. Available Here