Spectrum Strategic Planning

World-wide demand for spectrum access is greater than ever. The commercial wireless industry, nationally and internationally, forecasts extreme growth in data use over the next several years and well into the future, and is pursuing additional spectrum access to accommodate the estimated growth. Much of the spectrum being pursued is home to vital Department of Defense (DOD) operations. At the same time, the DOD's need to test and train domestically and project power globally has created similar demands on spectrum access. In order to satisfy increasing DOD spectrum requirements, while balancing the economic goals of the nation, the DOD must maintain an aggressive strategy that transforms spectrum management to maximize spectrum use in all dimensions (frequency, space, time, power, and signal structure) while not degrading mission effectiveness. Moving warfighter systems from one spectrum band to another is costly, time consuming, and is not a sustainable solution for obtaining spectrum for commercial services. The Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) is leading the DOD’s spectrum bi-directional sharing initiative with spectrum access risk assessments, and pioneering engineering analyses that support policy decisions.

Strategic Spectrum Implementation Roadmap and Architecture

DSO helped develop and is supporting implementation of a new DOD Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) Strategy that embraces spectrum sharing.  The Strategy emphasizes the need for advances in spectrum efficiency, flexibility, and adaptability for DOD systems; agility in DOD spectrum operations; and, timely evaluation and response to spectrum regulatory and policy changes affecting DOD. The implementation of the Strategy focuses on ‘deep tissue’ change: cultural transformation; shift from reactive to proactive; governance, accountability, and oversight; collaboration and partnerships; and advances in technology. In addition to the Strategy and its associated Implementation Roadmap, the DSO is also developing the Defense Spectrum Management Architecture (DSMA) to describe and guide the Department's spectrum management transformation. The DSMA is DOD Architecture Framework 2.0 (DODAF) compliant and is available via the DOD Architecture Registry System.

DSO Provides Leadership in a Time of Spectrum Reallocation

In support of the U.S. National Broadband Plan, President Obama mandated that 500 MHz of spectrum be reallocated from federal and non-federal purposes to support advanced commercial wireless communications services. Much of this spectrum will be reallocated from Federal use. The DOD supports the goal of bringing affordable, high-speed internet access to all Americans. Reallocation is not a sustainable path forward, but when it must be done, it must be in such a way as to not adversely impact the DOD’s ability to provide for the national defense.
At the same time spectrum demand is growing in the private sector, military spectrum requirements are also increasing. Current joint operations against near-peer state and non-state actors across the globe cannot be achieved without increased use of wireless devices that require access to the same electromagnetic spectrum as do the commercial wireless devices such as smartphones or tablets.
The DSO is working closely with the Military Services, the DOD Chief Information Office (DOD CIO), and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, providing the technical and project management expertise to:

  • Identify and Implement bi-directional spectrum sharing with new commercial service entries to existing Federal spectrum bands
  • Identify and implement spectrum access opportunities in existing non-Federal bands
  • Where necessary, implement relocation of DOD systems to alternative spectrum, while ensuring affected DOD systems will be relocated without detrimental impact to the DOD in defense of the American people

Defense Spectrum Relocation Management Team

The Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) has been instrumental in identifying additional spectrum as part of the 10-Year plan (2010 National Broadband Plan). The 10-Year plan calls for a total of 500 MHz of federal and nonfederal spectrum to be made available over the next 10 years, initiated in 2010, and for analyzing reallocation impacts on DOD systems and capabilities. The DSO has the overarching analytical capabilities required to implement the DOD Transition Plan, which calls for most systems to vacate the 1755-1780 MHz band, though certain systems will remain in the band indefinitely, as well as accommodate the early entry of wireless services prior to DOD systems vacating the band. The plan calls for the relocation of DOD operations from the 1755-1780 MHz band; and establishing permanent sharing agreements for those systems remaining in the band and transitional sharing with AWS-3 licensees prior to systems relocating out of the band. DSO established the Defense Spectrum Relocation Management Team (DSRMT) to coordinate activities among the Military Services; to coordinate interaction between the wireless industry and the Military Services; and to conduct engineering (analysis, modeling, test, and demonstration) activities to facilitate increasingly less restrictive sharing arrangements for both early entry and permanent spectrum sharing. In addition, the team developed and continues to improve the spectrum management/coordination capabilities needed to facilitate the relocation of DOD operations from the 1755-1780 MHz band into the agreed upon destination bands (1780-1850 MHz, 2025-2110 MHz).

DSO Leadership Globally

To ensure global harmonization of spectrum use where appropriate, the United Nations International Telecommunications Union hosts the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) every 3-5 years. Nearly every country in the world sends a delegation to the WRC.

The Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) plays a critical role in the Department of Defense (DOD) preparations for each WRC. DSO is responsible for achieving consensus on WRC positions among the different DOD agencies, military departments (MILDEPS), Services and Joint Staff. DSO fulfills this role as the steering member of the International Permanent Working Group of the Military C4 Executive Board’s Frequency Panel, which is tasked with DOD WRC preparations. In addition, DSO provides senior Department of State leaders and the US WRC Ambassador technical support and regulatory guidance on DOD issues during the conference and its associated preparatory processes. DSO also represents DOD and the United States at regional ITU meetings and serves in spokesperson roles as part of the United States delegation.

Emerging Spectrum Technology

The DSO identifies, monitors, and assesses emerging spectrum technologies (EST) that impact DOD access to the electromagnetic spectrum.  DSO facilitates forums to bring together DOD, academia, and industry to address technical, policy, and regulatory issues related to a broad range of ESTs. These activities feed directly into the implementation of EMS Strategy by influencing and facilitating the advancement and understanding of the technologies needed to implement spectrum sharing and to ensure sufficient access to spectrum for the warfighter.