Managing Shared Access to a Spectrum Commons
Author(s)Lehr, William Herndon; Crowcroft, Jon
The open access, unlicensed or spectrum commons approach to managing shared access to RF spectrum offers many attractive benefits, especially when implemented in conjunction with and as a complement to a regime of marketbased, flexible use, tradable licensed spectrum ([Benkler02], [Lehr04], [Werbach03]). However, as a number of critics have pointed out, implementing the unlicensed model poses difficult challenges that have not been well-addressed yet by commons advocates ([Benjam03], [Faulhab05], [Goodman04], [Hazlett01]). A successful spectrum commons will not be unregulated, but it also need not be command & control by another name. This paper seeks to address some of the implementation challenges associated with managing a spectrum commons. We focus on the minimal set of features that we believe a suitable management protocol, etiquette, or framework for a spectrum commons will need to incorporate. This includes: (1) No transmit only devices; (2) Power restrictions; (3) Common channel signaling; (4) Mechanism for handling congestion and allocating resources among users/uses in times of congestion; (5) Mechanism to support enforcement (e.g., established procedures to verify protocol is in conformance); (6) Mechanism to support reversibility of policy; and (7) Protection for privacy and security. We explain why each is necessary, examine their implications for current policy, and suggest ways in which they might be implemented. We present a framework that suggests a set of design principles for the protocols that will govern a successful commons management regime. Our design rules lead us to conclude that the appropriate Protocols for a Commons will need to be more liquid ([Reed05]) than in the past: (1) Marketbased instead of C&C; (2) Decentralized/distributed; and, (3) Adaptive and flexible (Anonymous, distributed, decentralized, and locally responsive).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
ESD Working Papers;ESD-WP-2006-01