Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

63 Federal Communications Law Journal 481 (2011)


Symposium: Rough Consensus and Running Code: Integrating Engineering Principles into Internet Policy Debates, held at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Technology Innovation and Competition on May 6-7, 2010.

It is axiomatic that government licensing is a foundational requirement for the use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Yet in some bands there is no licensing requirement, providing an empirical site that can be used to examine wireless coexistence without licenses. This Article draws on ethnographic work with wireless Internet Service Providers to report on the extralegal means that are used to share or allocate spectrum in these license exempt bands. Operators use a variety of informal arrangements there, including jamming and extortion. It concludes that wireless may be increasingly subject to extralegal allocation, and the outcomes of federal spectrum policy may in fact rest in local hands.