enforcing spectrum use rights

Policy analysts and governments have been concerned much more with distributing spectrum use rights than with enforcing them. Distributing spectrum use rights confers benefits on parties who receive them and often generates considerable revenue for governments. Enforcing existing rights, in contrast, always makes at least one party unhappy.

Across the world, almost no public records exist of publicly adjudicated disputes between parties who claim conflicting spectrum use rights. Yet what parties are allowed to do under existing definitions of spectrum use rights is not tightly specified. Some rights, such as natural human rights, are understood to exist irrespective of governmental actions that enact and enforce them. But spectrum use rights might also be understood as practical claims that will prevail in actual dispute circumstances. The absence of a public record of disputes makes existing spectrum use rights in this sense subject to considerable uncertainty.

Moreover, across the world, the institution nominally responsible for adjudicating disputes about spectrum use rights is typically the same institution that defines and distributes those rights. An independent judiciary is usually thought to be important for ensuring rule of law. The lack of an independent judiciary body for spectrum use rights makes those rights less secure.

My work, Revolutionary Ideas for Radio Regulation (2002), considered the constitution of spectrum policy.  About seven years later, it still seems to me that enforcement of spectrum use rights needs more analysis and discussion.  As a modest and belated additional contribution to that end, I have posted the datasets I constructed of FCC field office enforcement actions and FCC Enforcement Bureau orders for the years 2000 to 2001.  These datasets are based on documents publicly available on the FCC website.  The datasets organize the relevant data so as to allow analysis of the enforcement of spectrum use rights.

2 thoughts on “enforcing spectrum use rights”

  1. Spectrum rights are specifically defined rights granted by the government. Likewise Patent rights are specifically defined rights granted by the government. Spectrum rights should and could be enforced in a manner similar to the manner that patent rights are enforced. There is a special appeals court that adjudicates all patent appeals. Possibly the jurisdiction of this court should be expanded to also cover spectrum rights disputes.

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