Senators Urge Biden Administration to Protect Defense Department’s Spectrum
Senators Express Concerns
Three U.S. senators, including Republican Deb Fischer, Democrat Mazie Hirono, and independent Angus King, have urged President Joe Biden not to strip the Defense Department of key spectrum used for military radar systems in favor of 5G commercial wireless use. They emphasized the potential harm to the DOD’s ability to carry out its missions, increase costs, and adversely affect national security.
Industry Groups’ Perspective
Industry groups argue that the lower 3 gigahertz (GHz) band is used for 5G in nearly 50 countries and that commercial use can coexist with U.S. military radar systems. A group representing wireless carriers stated that at least 150 megahertz (MHz) can be freed up for commercial use.
Concerns About Relocation Costs
The Pentagon has raised concerns about the cost and time associated with relocating radars to another spectrum block, estimating that it would take two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Unreleased Study on Spectrum Sharing
A 22-month study by the Defense and Commerce Departments on the feasibility of sharing 3 GHz spectrum has not been released publicly, prompting calls for its public release to explore potential solutions that do not harm mission-critical capabilities.
White House’s Stance
The White House declined to comment on the letter from the senators but has previously announced steps to free up additional spectrum for advanced technology needs and soaring U.S. wireless demand by repurposing spectrum currently set aside for government use.
Challenges and Future Plans
Congress has let the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to auction wireless spectrum lapse for the first time in three decades. Key issues include working to free up government-owned spectrum that agencies no longer need and developing dynamic spectrum-sharing capability.
Overall, the debate surrounding the use of spectrum for military and commercial purposes is complex and requires careful consideration to balance national security and technological advancement.