This article argues that both flexible spectrum management and the concept of reconfigurability do not eliminate the need for certain centralized controlling entities, and even introduce a number of new entities performing regulatory, commercial and technical functions. One such entity, the Cognitive Pilot Channel (CPC), is presented, and different configurations of the CPC are outlined. Subsequently, the potential impact of different CPC configurations on business models for wireless services making use of such a channel is explored. The article concludes that a hybrid model combining a meta-level CPC with operator-deployed channels might provide the best mix of technical and strategic control for operators, and value for users.