JED - August 2013 - 30

The Journal of Electronic Defense | August 2013


neutral.” An international bureau was
created in Berne, Switzerland, to house
and disseminate information about all
systems currently deployed and the location of wireless stations in each country. It was the first step in the creation
of today’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU), to which at this early
date was added the extension “Radiocommunications” (ITU-R).
Even though America led the charge
to institute regulations, it took the major role played by radiotelegraphy after
the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 to get
politicians to put aside their differences
and sign a law regulating the characteristics of emissions and distress calls and
identifying specific frequencies for government use. Licensing was to be handled by the Secretary of Commerce and
Labor. Another international conference
was scheduled shortly thereafter but
was delayed until 1927 by World War I.
In the intervening years, radiotelegraphy had been joined by broadcast
radio, which complicated matters, and
President Warren G. Harding directed
then Secretary of Commerce Herbert
Hoover to find a way to accommodate
it. The result was a recommendation on
how spectrum should be allocated – a
first. However, as it was only a recommendation, no one was legally bound to
uphold it, so when a station in Chicago
requested a channel, and the commerce
department rejected it, the station went
on the air anyway, which prompted a
government lawsuit – which the government, to its embarrassment, lost. The
court ruled that the government could
not reject a request from a legitimate
entity, which effectively meant that the
government had no control over spectrum use. This failure was made even
more embarrassing as an international
conference on spectrum regulation was
to take place in Washington that year.
Not coincidently, the Radio Act of
1927 was quickly formulated and became
law, creating a commission with the authority to license stations, allocate frequencies dedicated to specific services,
assign channels to stations and control
transmitted power. This was a major advance. The aforementioned 1927 International Radio Conference then created
the first regulations for spectrum man-

agement, including allocation by type
of service – fixed, mobile, broadcast and
amateur (which is all there was at the
time). All countries had the right to use
these frequencies for their respective
purposes. Modifications continued to
be made to spectrum management policies (such as the addition of aviation),
in subsequent conferences and the globe
was split up into regions, which still exist today.
The next step in the US was to deal
with the proliferation of government
agencies that controlled specific allocations. The landmark Communications Act
of 1934 did that and much more, creating
a Federal Communications Commission,
which would report to Congress rather
than the executive branch (a key distinction) and would oversee the diverse user
base. The President, through the Department of Commerce, retained the responsibility for federal spectrum management.
And so it is today: The FCC manages spectrum use for commercial, state and local
government agencies, and the commerce
department manages the spectrum for
federal government agencies.
In 1934, nearly four decades after
radiotelegraphy took hold, technology
had significantly advanced and services
using the spectrum had skyrocketed,
causing interference issues both within
and between nations. The US proposed
rules that would create the International Frequency Regulation Board (IFRB)
whose responsibility was to keep track
of frequency assignments and make rec-

ommendations on spectrum usage based
on its impact on interference.
Many other spectrum regulation and
management changes have taken place
since then, including creation in 1978
of the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) that
has played a key role in proposing solutions to problems arising from advances
in technology, and introduced the concept of spectrum auctions. The ITU became a massive international regulatory
force and was placed under the wing
of the United Nations; today it has 193
member states and about 700 “sector”
By any yardstick of measurement,
the world is a very different place today than it was when the fundamental
elements of spectrum policy took shape.
Wireless transmission is now almost
exclusively digital, applications have
multiplied, and any activity that can
more effectively be conducted without
wires is either now, or soon will be,

Today’s spectrum quest is a lot like
the children’s book “Where’s Waldo,”
which challenged kids and parents alike
to find the man himself within a visually-confusing, densely-packed group
of images. Continuing the analogy, the
difference between the game and the
current spectrum race is that every
”Wireless Waldo” is very well off, and
some are more well off than others. That

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
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
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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
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JED - August 2013 - EW 101
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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