Trust issues inhibit spectrum sharing, DISA official says

The stakes for radio frequency spectrum are high, and industry and government, particularly the Defense Department, don’t trust each other, a DOD official said today.

Speaking at the Wireless Technology and Security 2007 conference in Washington, D.C., Paige Atkins, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Defense Spectrum Organization, said the tensions between industry and DOD hinder them from working for the greater good of a well-organized and well-managed spectrum system.

Because spectrum is finite, someone has to give up space so another can gain it, Atkins said. “Somebody’s winning, somebody’s losing,” she said.

Industry and government have differing viewpoints on spectrum issues and ultimate purposes, Atkins said. “We can’t do this alone,” she said. The key is working together to create a win-win game, Atkins added.

The explosion of technology from industry drives the importance of spectrum issues. Spectrum is currently allocated in a static, stovepipe state, but an industry/government partnership could bring about a dynamic, cognate environment, where government and industry could get more from the spectrum’s resources, she said.

Stephen Orr, consultant for systems engineering at Cisco Systems, said after Atkins' speech that industry and government are learning to speak the same language.

DSO — born in 2006 of DOD's old spectrum organization and the Joint Spectrum Center — is scanning the horizon for more technology explosions so it can help manage the new technology’s introduction onto the spectrum scene, Atkins said. The organization also works to identify technologies that could encumber DOD’s spectrum needs in the future.

“The stakes are high,” Atkins said.

The organization is reviewing all facets of spectrum issues, including policy debates, strategic planning, acquisitions and analyses. It is building Defense Spectrum Management Architectures and the Global Electromagnetic Spectrum Information System to advance spectrum-pivotal needs, she said.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Atkins said.

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