Wireless Internet Commons

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 40 weeks ago.

onthecommons.org has an informative post about Pierre de Vries of the New America Foundation and his working paper, “Populating the Vacant Channels.” (PDF)

The foundational idea of the paper is that, in the US, we can can use "whitespace", or unused wireless radio spectrum to create an unlicensed networking commons.

The paper gives a core reason for taking an unlicensed approach: "Unliscenced use would stimulate growth and innovation", to quote directly from the paper.

The paper cites examples like wireless enabled cameras, Internet "radio" stations over Wi-Fi, and smart devices of all kinds as examples of new growth and innovation areas. Other areas of growth are the expansion of broadband relatively cheaply and easily into areas that are currently not served.

de Vries also makes a good argument that "smart radio" technology now exists that can effectively manage radio spectrums without interference. So, there is little reason why room cannot eventually be made for an unlicensed wireless Internet commons across the entire world. This paper also builds on Yochia Benkler's effective arguments against the assumptions that "spectrum is scarce", that the licensed-spectrum market is "efficient".

It's strange to me that I can find very little debate about this on blogs or the Internet in general. So, this post is also a challenge:

Can you come up with an effective argument against using vacant channels as an unlicensed Internet commons?

If not, then why are we not using these channels in this way in the US right now?