FAA looks to spur spectrum sharing tech

Photo credit: Valerii Iavtushenko / Shutterstock.com 

The control tower at New York's Kennedy Airport. (Photo credit: Valerii Iavtushenko / Shutterstock.com)

Four agencies are banking on industry coming up with an innovative way to free up spectrum by combining surveillance, air safety and weather radar applications into a single "system of systems" by 2024.

The federally owned spectrum between 1300 and 1350 MHz is "prime real estate" that offers the telecommunications and other commercial industries spectrum that can sustain wireless transmission over long ranges, said Rebecca Guy, the Federal Aviation Administration's program manager for the new spectrum relocation plan.

Multiple agencies are participating in an FAA-led bid to combine spectrum-dependent air surveillance, safety and weather operations under a plan dubbed the Spectrum Efficient National Surveillance Radar Program, or SENSR. The plan seeks to free up federal spectrum for commercial auction by 2024 and relocate federal users shortly afterwards. The FAA issued a request for information on the plan in December and has held an industry day with tech providers to get input, Guy said.

The plan would consolidate legacy surveillance radars, including aircraft surveillance, air traffic and weather radars, operated by the Department of Defense, Customs and Border Protection and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under one system, Guy said in a Jan. 5 press briefing on the project.

The spectrum that DoD, DHS, FAA and NOAA radar systems occupy is potentially worth as much as $19 billion under auction in a couple of decades, according to Guy.

The agencies want to dip into the spectrum relocation fund to pay for the program to develop the new radar capabilities, as well as tap the proceeds of the 2024 spectrum auction to move agency applications over to the new system in the future.

The team is looking to industry to combine their systems, some of which are based on 1970's radar technologies, with emerging technologies that can better combine applications, said Guy.

'The SENSR team is already taking stock of some of the technologies that might fill the bill and hoping for industry to fill in some of the blanks. Multi-function Phased Array Radar could offer solution, as could other technology under development, according to Guy, as long as it meets government standards. To hit the 2024 deadline, Guy said, interested industry partners probably would need to have a candidate technology already under development.

"Building something from scratch won't meet the deadline," she said. "We're trying to assess technologies that industry will bring to us."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group