DoD 'OK' in Radio Bandwidth Transfer to Private Sector

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2002 -- DoD retains access to valuable radio bandwidth needed for national security although the government gave up a segment July 23 to facilitate growth in the U.S. telecommunications industry.

The Department of Commerce announced its plan July 23 called the "3G (3rd Generation) Viability Assessment." DoD and some other government agencies will transfer 45 megahertz of radio bandwidth to the private sector. The frequencies will come from the 1710-1755 MHz range.

One of the challenges in developing the 3G plan was how to reallocate bandwidth without impairing DoD's network-centric warfare and information superiority missions, according to Commerce Department officials. Military transformation calls for quantum leaps in the use of computerized information technology that depend on wireless systems.

However, the bandwidth transfer won't hurt DoD's missions, said Steven Price, deputy assistant secretary of defense for spectrum, space, sensors and C3 (command, control and communications) policy.

"We welcome the findings in the 3G Viability Plan and believe the plan supports the needs of national security," Price noted. He added that DoD would be reimbursed for associated costs in transferring the bandwidth to gaining private-sector entities.

Price noted the plan "requires some changes" to certain military systems, but said DoD doesn't lose because it will have access to more bandwidth, if needed.

"DoD believes that implementing the 3G plan will (neither) degrade military capabilities nor harm national security interests," he remarked.

The plan acknowledges "defense's growing spectrum needs, and we expect (the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission) will continue to take these needs into account in the future," Price pointed out.

DoD will relocate its affected systems to other bandwidths before December 2008, according to the Commerce Department.

Commerce officials said the 3G plan also calls for the private sector to gain another 45 MHz of bandwidth from the 2110-2170 MHz range, used by nongovernment entities.

The reallocation results from research and analysis made by commerce's NTIA, the FCC, DoD, and other executive branch agencies.

Radio bandwidth is a fixed broadcast frequency spectrum divided up into ranges reserved for the public, governments, industry and various others. Commerce officials said the growing demand for advanced wireless services in the United States requires a larger share of bandwidth.

They noted that U.S. wireless use, measured in minutes, is increasing 75 percent annually. Therefore, adequate bandwidth is paramount for quality wireless voice and data service, to include cell phones and computerized communications systems used by U.S. industry and more than a hundred million consumers.