DoD Tests The Water on Plan to Share Spectrum With Commercial Industry

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The Department of Defense seeks wireless industry suggestions for spectrum-sharing to speed 5G deployment. CTIA is cautious about the DoD action, which some experts have likened to a possible “nationalization” of 5G. The Request for Information comes as FCC Commissioners last week told House lawmakers they’d oppose nationalization of 5G, Inside Towers reported.

Issued Friday, DoD says the RFI seeks “insight into innovative solutions and technologies for dynamic sharing of the department’s current spectrum allocation.” The intent is to ensure the greatest effective and efficient use of the Department of Defense’s spectrum “for training, readiness, and lethality,” according to DoD.

“We hope our industry partners will come forward with innovative ideas to address the questions in this RFI,” said DOD Chief Information Officer, Honorable Dana Deasy. “DOD’s partnership with industry is imperative in this extremely technical and competitive field. What we learn in this effort has potential to benefit the entire nation and keep the U.S. as the global leader of 5G technology for many years to come.”

CTIA warns the U.S. must “stay the course and focus on private sector solutions and auctioned spectrum” in response to the Pentagon’s RFI. President Donald Trump “last year concluded a national 5G network ‘won’t be nearly as good, nearly as fast’ as the U.S. wireless industry,” CTIA senior VP Nick Ludlum told Politico. “He was right, and thanks to the Administration’s pro-market approach, $29 billion was invested by the wireless industry in 2019 alone. Americans now benefit from two nationwide 5G networks and a third on the way.”

The scope of the effort, according to the RFI, is to have vendors look at the “broad range of spectrum DOD currently uses in order to understand both the art of the possible, as well as current industry trends in spectrum utilization.” It’s intended to cover all approaches to spectrum management, including the best methods for sharing spectrum with both military and civilian users.

Some of the questions DoD seeks answers to are:

  • How could DoD own and operate 5G networks for its domestic operations?  What are the potential issues with DoD owning and operating independent networks for its 5G operations?
  • While the Department has made available the 3450-3550 MHz spectrum band for 5G, are there new technologies or innovative methods as to how additional mid-band spectrum currently allocated to DoD can be made available for 5G faster?
  • While the Department has made available the 3450-3550 MHz spectrum band for 5G, are there new technologies or innovative methods as to how additional mid-band spectrum currently allocated to DoD can be made available for 5G faster?
  • Should DoD consider spectrum leasing as an alternative to reallocation? If so, how could it be implemented? 

Responses, not to exceed 40 pages, are due no later than noon EDT on October 19, via email to: Gloria Norwood at [email protected]. 

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