Spectrum wrap-up

I had a lot of fun at the Spectrum Conference, and overall it was a great learning experience. Cory’s notes over at BoingBoing were better than actually attending, as he whittled down hours into a few choice paragraphs and quotes. While some of the legal details sailed over my head, there were interesting discussions about technology and implementation issues. Much of the debates revolved around taking either a commons approach, where anyone can do anything with the spectrum and we’ll think of ways to regulate it as needed, and the property approach, where segments are auctioned off to the highest bidder to own and do whatever they want. The moot court near the end of day one pitted one group vs. the other, but overall was a mishmash of ideas. I’m surprised the commons folks don’t use more examples from all over the world, where unlicensed spectrums seem to reign supreme, and I was surprised at the weak arguments presented by the property folks who claimed there would always be room in a profit-driven model for a small commons.

The crowd split on the approaches, with every technologist, software creator, and wifi-loving laptop owner siding with a commons approach, while the straight laced older generation of washington policy types seemed big on the property side. Numbers wise, the pro-property folks were definitely in the minority, and from a quick visual survey of the room, I’d say anyone born after the dawn of unix time (Jan 1, 1970) was a commons supporter, so my guess is that property’s days are numbered.