DOD to share spectrum for safety

The Defense Department has agreed to share portions of the 138 Mhz to144 MHz band of radio spectrum on a case-by-case basis with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, state and local governments and public safety agencies.

"It is possible to share portions of the 138 Mhz to 144 MHz band with public safety users on a limited, coordinated basis," said Steven Price, deputy assistant secretary of defense for spectrum and command, control and communication (C3) policy. Price said that DOD was willing to share the band for the "common good."

A DOD Joint Spectrum Center engineering study, submitted to Congress Feb. 5, identified ways of sharing the band without interfering with DOD operations. John Stenbit, DOD's chief information officer, oversaw the classified study, which showed that the areas of operation associated with the department's usage in the 138 Mhz to144 MHz band encompass nearly the continental United States.

The band is used for myriad systems, including:

* Air traffic control and ground support functions at military airfields.

* Tactical communications for close air support.

* Land-based mobile radios for support of installation infrastructure.

* Land-based mobile radios and specialized equipment for training and test range support.

* Fire and security alarms.

* Hydrology and utility controls.

When responding to emergencies, the DOD has found it helpful to share communication systems with other first responders, and a small number of channels may be shared on a regional basis when it is to the mutual benefit of DOD and public safety officials, Price said.

The report has been submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

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