Why there have been so few spectrum trades in the UK: lessons for Europe

Rajen Akalu (Rajen Akalu is based at Economics of infrastructures, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Publication date: 26 January 2010



This paper seeks to define a coherent management preference function for determining the conditions when the market can be effectively used in the management of spectrum based on abduction and volitional pragmatism.


Volitional pragmatism based on the logic of abduction is used to provide an explanation for real world empirical observation of few spectrum trades in the UK. This is generalized for application with wider context of European frequency management.


There has been a considerable regulatory effort directed toward spectrum trading in the EU. The UK experience with trading is clearly not what was expected. It was suggested that this is a result of an analytical approach based on deductive validationism subject to ceteris paribus assumptions. This approach does have merit but its application is over extended. This is due in large part institutional under specification of what constitutes the market and the nature of the transaction taking place.

Research limitations/implications

The emphasis is in this paper is on the explanation of real world facts rather than normative prescription based on deductive validationism. Such an approach though fallible (all facts cannot be taken into account) is no less valuable in the process of regulatory decision making than deductive validationism.

Practical implications

This paper provides a more coherent explanation of spectrum development and the spectrum management reform process.


A set of conditions are provided for determining when the market can be used in the management of spectrum. This makes explicit the intended operation of the market as well as its limitations.



Akalu, R. (2010), "Why there have been so few spectrum trades in the UK: lessons for Europe", info, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 10-17. https://doi.org/10.1108/14636691011015349

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