By Scott Wallsten
Published in The Hill on September 25, 2015
Many have feared that unlicensed spectrum would suffer from a “tragedy of the commons,” in which the spectrum becomes congested as more users dive in without regard to their effects on other users. Engineers and others have worked hard to prevent that outcome.
But what was not anticipated was the “tragedy of the anti-commons,” which is the Bizarro-World version of the more familiar tragedy. Instead of more users piling in, the many and disparate users of an existing technology act as if they hold property rights but are unable to coordinate other than to block new technologies, potentially depriving society of large net benefits.
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