radio spectrum

DISA wants ideas on dynamic spectrum sharing

The Defense Information Systems Agency is asking industry for ideas on how best to develop and deploy dynamic spectrum sharing across a broad range of capabilities.

According to a Sept. 18 request for information, DISA looking for ideas on how it can dynamically share its allocated spectrum to support 5G development and other innovative technologies. It wants to know about solutions that could speed spectrum sharing capabilities, what the legal and national security challenges are and what is involved in owning and operating an independent domestic 5G network.

The Defense Department controls a significant portion of the mid-band spectrum considered ideal for 5G that it currently uses  for high-power radar operations. Additionally, the demand for spectrum sharing is expected to increase to keep up with military and commercial needs, especially as DOD moves to implement all domain operations. But the practice has raised some tensions regarding the commercial use of frequencies close to the ones DOD uses for navigation.

The RFI poses a number of questions, including whether DOD should own and operate its own domestic 5G networks, whether it should open up additional frequency bands for sharing, and if it should utilize multiple spectrum sharing solutions, including leasing arrangements.

The RFI also asks about using automation and data standards that could speed up spectrum sharing and repurposing decisions, respectively. Additionally, DOD is seeking comment on any potential legal or regulatory conflicts that could arise with different spectrum-sharing models and management.

Two senior Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee warned that DOD’s 5G effort could be in conflict with work already underway at telecom regulators and might serve to create a boondoggle for industry.

"The Department of Defense’s RFI on the creation of a government-owned and operated 5G network will do nothing but slow the deployment of this critical technology," Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said in a statement. "The plan appears specifically crafted to enrich President Trump’s cronies and undermines the careful and complicated work done by the FCC and the NTIA to allocate this spectrum for commercial use." The pair added that, "The confusion [Trump] and his Administration are creating will surely set us back in the race to 5G."

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the ranking member for the House Armed Services Committee, called the RFI "encouraging" but said that solutions are coming along too slowly to accelerate 5G deployment.

"I am pleased to see that the Department is willing to explore ways to share the valuable mid-band spectrum that is so critical for our economy, our security, and our nation's future," Thornberry said in a Sept. 20 statement. "I am concerned, however, that DOD is still not moving at the appropriate speed given the on-going efforts by China and others. We must move out faster."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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