On the application of blockchains to spectrum management

Martin B.H. Weiss, Kevin Werbach, Douglas C. Sicker, Carlos E.Caicedo Bastidas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Spectrum sharing mechanisms have evolved to meet different needs related to increasing spectrum use efficiency. At first, decentralized and opportunistic cognitive radios (and cognitive radio networks) were the primary focus of research for these mechanisms. This gradually transitioned toward the development of cooperative sharing methods based on databases, typified by TV white spaces databases. Spectrum sharing is now the basis for the dynamic and fine-grained spectrum rights regime for the citizen's band radio service (CBRS) as well as for license shared access (LSA). The emergence of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has stimulated interest in applying its underlying technology, blockchain, to other applications as well, such as securities trading and supply chain management. This paper explores the application of blockchain to radio spectrum management. While blockchains could underlie radio spectrum management more broadly, we will focus on dynamic spectrum sharing applications. Like the cooperative approaches currently in use, blockchain is a database technology. However, a blockchain is a decentralized database in which the owner of the data maintains control. We consider the benefits and limitations of blockchain solutions in general, and then examine their potential application to four major categories of spectrum sharing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8703084
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cognitive Communications and Networking
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Blockchain
  • radio spectrum management
  • radio spectrum sharing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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