Understanding Spectrum Liberalisation: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Understanding Spectrum Liberalisation

1st Edition

By Martin Sims, Toby Youell, Richard Womersley

CRC Press

284 pages | 25 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2015-08-26
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Until the 1990s, almost all spectrum licenses were given away practically for free—even the first mobile licenses which laid the foundation for multi-billion dollar companies that dominate stock markets around the world. In the past fifteen years, there has been a concerted attempt to liberalise the sector and make it more open to market forces. This book examines this attempt.

Exploring the new frontier for spectrum policy, Understanding Spectrum Liberalisation identifies the successes and failures of the main policy initiatives of the past decade. It explains, in layman’s terms, the technical and policy background needed to understand these debates.

For those already working in the field, the book provides a lively analysis of recent policy initiatives along with an authoritative interpretation of the latest developments in spectrum policy. It examines individual liberalisation initiatives in detail and explains the logic behind moves towards spectrum sharing, which is seen as the next policy phase.

This book will help non-specialists climb the formidable learning curve quickly. It is ideal for those who have just become involved in the spectrum field, whether in industry, government, or as a regulator, as well as those with expertise in one area of spectrum management who want to learn more about the other areas.

History is about the concerns of the present, so the saying goes, and the authors hope that their interpretation of the very recent past will stimulate debate about future policy and help you make substantive contributions to ongoing policy debates.

Table of Contents



Putting Theory into Practice

The Promise of Liberalisation

History of Spectrum Policy

A Spectrum Engineering Primer



Spectrum Auctions Become the Default Assignment Mechanism

Problems with Beauty Contests

Auctions Dominate

The Liberalised Licensing Debate


Defining Spectrum Use

Traditional Licensing

Technology-Neutral Licenses

Licensing Based on Reception Not Transmission

Public Sector Spectrum

Uses of Public Sector Spectrum

Theory of Administered Incentive Pricing

Intricacies of Setting Prices

Countries That Have Implemented AIP



Liberalisation and the Development of the TV Market

The Long-Term Future of Terrestrial TV



How the Satellite Industry Uses Spectrum


Ultra Wide Band

Principles of an Underlay Network

Wi-Fi and the Spectrum Commons

An Incredible Success Story

The Triumph of the Commons

The Economics of Unlicensed

A Danger of Congestion?

Could a Mobile Carrier Rely on Wi-Fi?


The Whitespace Concept

What are Whitespaces?

New Receivers



Introduction to Part III

The Capacity Crunch

Predicting the Need for More Mobile Spectrum

Why Is Liberalisation Limited in Its Application?

No Faith in Our Creation

Obstacles for the Development of Spectrum Markets

A Wider View

Why Does Trading Have Such Patchy Success?

Poor Uptake

Concentration and National Licences

Technologies in Decline

Achievements of Spectrum Trading

Mobile Networks: From Sharing to Wholesale

Why Share Mobile Infrastructure?

Pros and Cons

Impact on Spectrum Liberalisation

The Role of Politics in Spectrum Liberalisation

Nation States

The Work of the International Telecommunications Union

Spectrum and National Politics

Spectrum and Regional Politics


Criticisms of Auctions

Do Spectrum Auctions Discourage Investment?

Do Auctions Hinder Competition?

The Problems with Complex Auctions

Drawing Together the Strands


Introduction to Part IV Finding the Right Metaphor

A Mixture of Tools

Licensed Shared Access


Availability of IMT Spectrum

How Does Licensed Shared Access Work?

The Appeal of LSA

LSA in Practice

Cognitive Radio and Database-Driven Spectrum Management

Cognitive Radio


Ending Before It Has Begun?

Future Technologies


Transmitting Beyond the Radio Spectrum


Future Prospects

Trends in the Broadcasting Market

The End Game

Appendix: What Does the ITU Do and How Does It Work?



About the Authors

Martin Sims is the founder and managing director of PolicyTracker, the spectrum management newsletter. He is also a consultant on spectrum policy issues, particularly relating to auctions.

Toby Youell is a journalist on PolicyTracker and has a degree in politics and Eastern European studies from University College London, London, United Kingdom.

Richard Womersley is director of Spectrum Consulting at LS telcom and has over 20 years of experience in spectrum management

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Telecommunications
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Mobile & Wireless Communications