JED - August 2013 - 28

DOD looks for ways to create order from chaos
By Barry Manz

The Journal of Electronic Defense | August 2013

28

DOD’s need to realize “spectrum dominance” over the enemy encompasses
every defense system that uses the
electromagnetic spectrum as its transmission medium, and is a key element
in enabling its net-centric vision of
current and future warfare. Achieving this on a global scale is enormously difficult. For example, a coalition
frequency coordination plan deemed
effective in one country may be completely ineffective in another and can
change without notice; the technological capabilities of potential adversaries (even those of non-state enemies)
are increasingly sophisticated; and the
US must comply with internationally
binding frequency assignments (that
the enemy ignores), and potentially
disastrous interference is as much an
internal as external problem.
Equally daunting is the challenge
posed by the “second wireless revolution,” which has, after years of promises, delivered the high data rates
required to enable video streaming
and other bandwidth-hungry services.
Wireless carriers need more spectrum
to accommodate the resulting traffic,
and as the largest “owner” of spectrum,
government agencies are vulnerable. As
the largest government owner of spectrum (of which only a fraction is actually used), the Pentagon is increasingly
facing pressure from Congress and the
White House to either share larger portions of its spectrum inventory with
commercial wireless companies or surrender desirable frequencies completely.
Sorting out this mess is the domain of
spectrum management, and within it,
the stomach-churning job of the spectrum manager.
At its highest level, spectrum management functions in an environment
where national and international politics, and regulations and agreements,

are intertwined with interests ranging from ensuring national security to
generating financial gain and market
dominance in the private sector. However, at an operational level, spectrum
management is an extraordinarily complex and challenging set of tasks that
globally requires thousands of people
whose mission is to continually sort out
signal activity at frequencies from Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) at 3-300
Hz through about 100 GHz.
Spectrum managers must continuously monitor “known” signals, and look
for signals of interest, determine their
type, where they come from, who and
what is generating them, whether they
belong there and what to do about them
if they don’t. Spectrum managers today
find themselves at the epicenter of the
“search for bandwidth,” whether they
reside in the offices of wireless carriers
or the Pentagon, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps or Navy. Their job is only going to get more difficult because, simply
stated, spectrum is no longer a commodity but rather a precious resource whose
quantity is known, finite and thus extraordinarily valuable. How spectral resources are allocated and managed holds
the key to the health of entire industries and the ability of governments and
militaries to do their jobs. If trading in
spectrum futures was available, its spot
price would make gold look cheap.

IT STARTED WITH MARCONI
To understand the complexity of
spectrum management, it’s important
to understand how it came about and
why. It is a story of an incremental process of regulation driven by technology,
safety, politics, and financial interests.
Around the turn of the 20th century,
the only use of the electromagnetic
spectrum was for radiotelegraphy – telegraphy without wires – whose primary

use was for maritime communications.
It was a globally growing business driven by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph
Company and others, though to a much
lesser extent.
Obviously, there was until then no
need for spectrum management, or more
specifically, spectrum regulation. How-


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JED - August 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - August 2013

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From The President
Letters
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
The Spectrum Management Challenge: Creating Order From Chaos
Technology Survey: ELINT Receivers
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - August 2013 - cover1
JED - August 2013 - cover2
JED - August 2013 - 3
JED - August 2013 - 4
JED - August 2013 - 5
JED - August 2013 - The View From Here
JED - August 2013 - 7
JED - August 2013 - Conferences Calendar
JED - August 2013 - 9
JED - August 2013 - Courses Calendar
JED - August 2013 - 11
JED - August 2013 - From The President
JED - August 2013 - 13
JED - August 2013 - Letters
JED - August 2013 - The Monitor
JED - August 2013 - 16
JED - August 2013 - 17
JED - August 2013 - 18
JED - August 2013 - 19
JED - August 2013 - 20
JED - August 2013 - 21
JED - August 2013 - Washington Report
JED - August 2013 - 23
JED - August 2013 - World Report
JED - August 2013 - 25
JED - August 2013 - 26
JED - August 2013 - 27
JED - August 2013 - The Spectrum Management Challenge: Creating Order From Chaos
JED - August 2013 - 29
JED - August 2013 - 30
JED - August 2013 - 31
JED - August 2013 - 32
JED - August 2013 - 33
JED - August 2013 - 34
JED - August 2013 - 35
JED - August 2013 - 36
JED - August 2013 - Technology Survey: ELINT Receivers
JED - August 2013 - 38
JED - August 2013 - 39
JED - August 2013 - 40
JED - August 2013 - 41
JED - August 2013 - 42
JED - August 2013 - 43
JED - August 2013 - 44
JED - August 2013 - 45
JED - August 2013 - 46
JED - August 2013 - 47
JED - August 2013 - EW 101
JED - August 2013 - 49
JED - August 2013 - 50
JED - August 2013 - AOC News
JED - August 2013 - 52
JED - August 2013 - Index of Advertisers
JED - August 2013 - JED Quick Look
JED - August 2013 - cover3
JED - August 2013 - cover4
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