Though the wireless spectrum is open, the microprocessor chips that drive wireless devices which use it are not. The interface information -- the technical data needed to write software that would allow those chips to be used in novel ways -- is normally kept secret by manufacturers. “The result could be a lot less innovation in the open wireless world than in the open wired one,” The Economist writes. Story also notes Sascha Meinrath's struggles at the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network to convince industry players to offer the interface information to the public domain. Related post.
JAN 7: Sascha reports that The Economist article is based on a paper he and his colleagues presented at the Telecommunications Policy and Research Conference. "It gets a bit technical," Sascha writes, "but is a very enlightening look at how some manufacturers are creating these second-order barriers to entry."