With advances in telecommunications, an increasing number of services rely on high data rate spectrum access. These critical services include banking, telemedicine, and exchange of technical information. As a result, spectrum resources are in ever-greater demand and the radio spectrum has become overly crowded. For efficient usage of spectrum, smart or cognitive radios are sought after. However, current wireless phones can only select a few specific bands. In this paper, we discuss the advantages of reconfigurable radios in not only increasing the efficiency of spectrum usage but also in potentially reducing the cost of wireless handsets and the barriers for new wireless service providers to enter the market. We review available technologies that make the implementation of reconfigurable radios possible and discuss technical challenges that need to be overcome before multistandard reconfigurable radios are put into practice. We also evaluate the ability of reconfigurable radios in reducing entry costs for new competitors in wireless service.