Pentagon Unveils Electro-Magnetic Spectrum Strategy

DoD announced a long-term plan to share part of its reserved airwaves with industry while preserving security and access for the military.

The Defense Department Thursday announced a long-term plan to share part of its reserved airwaves with industry while preserving security and access for the military to the electro-magnetic spectrum.

The Electro-Magnetic Spectrum Strategy developed with several federal agencies did not mean that the military “will have to make due with less spectrum,” but rather was aimed at working with wireless communications companies to meet the growing need for greater bandwidth, said Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer at the Pentagon.

A key White House advisor on telecommunications attended the briefing by Takai and other defense officials to applaud the effort to reach out to industry . The needs of the nation “can only be met through spectrum sharing,” said Karl Nebbia, associate administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management.

The Defense Department’s announcement was in line with President Obama’s goal of finding 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next decade, Nebbia said.

Takai stressed that the Pentagons’ own wireless spectrum needs would not be compromised by the new strategy. .

I used to say that everything’s connected to the network except if you carry around a weapon, and I was very quickly corrected that ‘no, in fact, most of our weaponry is facilitated by position navigation and timing — or what you’d call GPS,” Takai said.

The new strategy could possibly entail having the Defense Department give up part of the spectrum, while sharing other parts with industry, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler.

“That’s how we’re going forward with it,” said Wheeler, the Pentagon’s deputy for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Infrastructure. “It also depends on what industry needs, so there’s basically a combination.”

The release of the spectrum strategy would be followed over the next six months with the development of an implementation plan with the troops in mind that will focus on the practical issues involved in apportioning space on the electromagnetic spectrum, Takai said.

“The whole idea behind the spectrum strategy is to try to get ahead of this increasing demand so that they don’t have to operate with radios that are either more difficult to use or that have to be re-calibrated,” Takai said.

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Richard Sisk
Richard Sisk is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com.