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In the United States the issue of a "spectrum inventory" is of much current interest. A bill has been introduced in Congress, S. 649 (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s649is.txt.pdf), that would require both U.S. spectrum regulators, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration/NTIA (for federal government spectrum users) and Federal Communications Commission/FCC (for all other spectrum users) to complete a "radio spectrum inventory" within 180 days. In this column we discuss the potential implications of such legislation. It is hoped that such a spectrum inventory will ultimately result in new spectrum for commercial applications. Since spectrum is a key raw ingredient for wireless systems, this could spur both technical innovation and the provision of new wireless services to the public. Finally, since telecommunications systems are themselves a key economic infrastructure, new and improved services could make existing users more efficient and competitive, as well as open the door to the creation of new businesses that use wireless services to offer nontelecommunications products and services (as Amazon uses the Internet).