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What is Open Spectrum?

"Open Spectrum" is based on the realization that technology can reduce or even eliminate the need for governments to micro-manage wireless communication. In different contexts it can be viewed as

  • an ideal of freedom in the use of radio frequencies;
  • a critique of traditional spectrum management;
  • a possibility arising from new trends in radio design.
In fact it is all of these... [more]

"...more and more policy-makers are questioning the utility of licensing and demanding that licences be adapted to achieve policy goals without hindering market development and technological advancement... The allocation of spectrum for licence-exempt use is increasingly viewed as a catalyst for the development of more efficient and cost effective wireless technologies. By late 2004, 55 countries had allocated spectrum for unlicensed use..." ---Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2004-5: Licensing in an Era of Convergence, International Telecommunication Union, December 2004

Article 19 logo

Radio Rights

In February 2005, Open Spectrum UK filed comments in an Ofcom consultation, offering a human rights argument against radio licensing. This raised eyebrows as licensing is not often seen in that perspective. More eyebrows were raised when an Irish group, Scagaire, used a similar argument in their comments to ComReg during another consultation a few weeks later.

So we asked Article 19, the highly regarded NGO based in London which monitors legal threats to freedom of expression around the world, if they had an opinion on radio licensing and communication rights. In response they released a 4-page analysis entitled "The legitimacy of licence requirements for the use of wireless communications devices." We urge you to read it.

NOTES

"Can spectrum licensing breach human rights law?" by Pamela Whitby and Martin Sims, PolicyTracker.com, 18 August 2005.

"Open Spectrum UK's comments for Ofcom's 'Spectrum Framework Review' consultation," 15 February 2005.

"Irish Policy Group Pushes for Unlicensed Spectrum," by Nancy Gohring, Wi-Fi Net News Europe, 7 March 2005.

"Statement on the Right to Communicate," by Article 19 for the World Summit on the Information Society (Document WSIS/PC-2/CONTR/95-E), February 2003.

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