British regulator to free the spectrum

from "Techworld":

bq. Ofcom is planning the biggest shake-up in telecoms regulation since it began 100 years ago. For most of the radio spectrum, users currently hold pre-defined licences to operate specific technologies. Now, Ofcom has decided that market forces can do a better job: by 2010, companies will be able to trade spectrum without reference to Ofcom, and also change the use of that spectrum as they please.

Ofcom also says it plans to increase slightly the amount of unlicensed spectrum, possibly up to 7% of the total amount of regulated spectrum. Meanwhile, under FCC rules in the US, a license holder must apply to have their license revoked and transferred to a purchaser in order to make a transfer, and it is much more difficult to change how a slice of spectrum is being used.

Clearly someone has been listening to "Ronald Coase": This can only be an improvement over the current situation, and it could potentially be "least bad" given that the government isn't going to start turning radio spectrum over for homesteading. However, is this better than simply making the entire spectrum unlicensed and providing (or allowing to form through market forces) a mechanism for mediating disputes? Discuss.

(Thanks to "Wi-Fi Networking News": and a coworker for the link.)

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