DOD officials warn of wireless spectrum overload

DOD officials warn of wireless spectrum overload

By Dawn S. Onley

GCN Staff


JUNE 6'Army Major Gen. James David Bryan stood before a Washington audience yesterday and bet $10 that no one had more wireless devices than he had. One person had two gadgets. Another who raised his hand had four.

Bryan had seven, and entertained the attendees at the AFCEA TechNet International 2001 conference by pulling out an array of wireless contraptions from his uniform pockets, including a cell phone, pager, personal digital assistant, and garage and car door openers.

'When did all this happen?' Bryan asked the group, referring to the 115 million'and counting—cellular subscribers in the United States. 'If we're not real careful, we face chaos in the wireless environment.'

Bryan, vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, called for regulation of the wireless spectrum and a set of standards to emphasize security, research and development.

'This is a global problem,' Bryan said. 'The stress this is putting on the spectrum is enormous. Spectrum is a shared national and international commodity. There is just not enough to go around.'

In recent months, the Defense Department has come under increased pressure from Congress and private cellular companies to relinquish or share some of its valuable wireless spectrum. This has prompted a report by DOD arguing that preserving its limited spectrum is crucial to national defense missions.

With the growing use of wireless technologies, the United States is unique in that there is no spectrum policy in place to balance national security with commercial uses of frequency spectrum.

This puts the DOD in a vulnerable position, said Rear Adm. Robert Nutwell, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and information, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Nutwell said the DOD spectrum allocation is being viewed as 'beachfront property' by the cellular telephone industry.

He said full-band sharing is not feasible, but DOD could vacate some parts of the spectrum under conditions that would include reimbursement for the space and finding comparable spectrum for the DOD.

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