Agencies face static in spectrum relocation

Although the Spectrum Relocation Fund addresses the perennial issue of migrating agencies off of scarce spectrum, more innovation and perseverance is required.

Shutterstock image (by kstudija): telecommunications radio tower.
 

Federal agencies have an increasingly effective set of incentives to relocate their spectrum operations, but budgetary, operational and institutional constraints remain, said a panel of wireless market experts.

Federal agencies sit on a vast amount of wireless spectrum that is becoming increasing valuable to commercial wireless carriers, whose customers are demanding more and more bandwidth for video and apps.

The effort to dislodge federal users from commercially viable spectrum has spanned multiple administrations, but the trick has been to find ways to encourage agencies to relocate.

"The biggest problem challenge at agencies is that once there is a focus on a [wireless] band, it thinks it's going to be forced out" in favor of auctioning off that resource to industry, said Steve Sharkey, vice president of  government affairs, technology and engineering policy at T-Mobile USA. Federal agencies are "reluctant to discuss" relocation "without a clear path ahead" for them.

However, according to Sharkey, things are looking up with agencies seeing the value of their spectrum holdings and listening to how they might move off of it with more effective solutions.

"Overall there has been progress," in federal agencies' relocating and freeing up spectrum, he said. The Spectrum Relocation Fund has helped those efforts, he said, and has opened some doors at federal agencies. Sharkey said the Defense Department, in particular, has had a "mind shift" in regards to spectrum relocation and is listening to options.

The path forward for federal agency spectrum relocation, according to industry and agency panelists at a May 17 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event, depends on perseverance.

Innovative approaches give federal agencies a way to squeeze value out of their spectrum and potentially provide their users with better wireless solutions, said John Leibovitz, former deputy chief of the FCC's Wireless Bureau and special advisor to the chairman for spectrum.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Spectrum Efficient National Surveillance Radar Program, or SENSR, for example, would free up spectrum by combining four agencies' surveillance, air safety and weather radar applications into a single "system of systems" by 2024.

Similarly combining wireless airborne platforms used by the Defense Department for combat training and air telemetry applications, he said, could offer additional paths for freeing up wide swaths of spectrum.

Budgeting and operational challenges still dog the efforts, as do industry bottom line issues, according to panelists.

For instance, wireless equipment makers haven't cracked how they can develop platforms that can address multiple federal agencies' wireless networking needs, said Mary Brown, senior director of government affairs at Cisco Systems.

Additionally, Leibovitz pointed out that the Office of Management and Budget typically doesn't like to look forward more than 10 years to fund agencies' plans to relocate to other spectrum under the Spectrum Relocation Fund. That can put a crimp in long range moves, he said.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is working on a significant tool that could help. The agency's Institute for Telecommunication Sciences is defining metrics on spectrum efficiency, said the agency's chief economist Giulia McHenry. The work will ultimately come up with numbers that federal agencies can use in business cases for relocating.

However, the problem of exactly who within a given federal agency will use those metrics to make decisions about moving is still unclear in many cases, according to the panelists.

"Within federal agencies there is no clear handle on who is making those decisions," McHenry said.

NEXT STORY: CBP looks to consolidate data

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.