TR Daily DoD Official Defends Spectrum Sharing RFI
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

DoD Official Defends Spectrum Sharing RFI

A Department of Defense official today defended a request for information released by DoD last week seeking views on ways it can share spectrum in the 3.1-3.55 gigahertz and other bands (TR Daily, Sept. 18), but an industry representative criticized it.

Among other questions, the RFI asks "[h]ow 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?"

During the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's annual spectrum policy symposium held via webcast today, Fred Moorefield, DoD's deputy chief information officer-command, control, and communications, said the RFI is designed to solicit opinions from industry on additional areas where DoD should consider spectrum sharing "with the goal of accelerating spectrum sharing decisions and 5G deployment."

DoD wants to consider "all methods and approaches" to deploy dynamic spectrum sharing, Mr. Moorefield added.

But later at today's half-day event, Steve Sharkey, vice president-government affairs/engineering and technology policy for T-Mobile US, Inc., said it was "a little daunting" to see questions on DoD owning and operating a 5G network.

"I think that's the kind of thing we need to be wary about," he added, saying that government resources should be focused on accelerating 5G deployment by private networks.

The RFI has also drawn criticism from CTIA and House Democrats.

"The President last year concluded a national 5G network 'won't be nearly as good, nearly as fast' as the U.S. wireless industry. He was right, and thanks to the Administration's pro-market approach $29 billion was invested by the wireless industry in 2019 alone," CTIA Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Nick Ludlum said in a statement. "Americans now benefit from two nationwide 5G networks and a third on the way. We must stay the course and focus on private sector solutions and auctioned spectrum to build the 5G Economy and connect all Americans."

Yesterday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.) and communications and technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D., Pa.) complained that DoD's RFI "will do nothing but slow the deployment of this critical technology" (TR Daily, Sept. 21).

During today's event, government and industry representatives also emphasized the importance of 5G leading the world in 5G deployment, which they said could be facilitated by more cooperation and coordination. A number of speakers also stressed the need to find new ways to share spectrum, although Mr. Sharkey said that exclusive access to frequencies "is still the gold standard."

Speakers also discussed broader spectrum management themes, such as the current U.S. spectrum-management framework in which NTIA manages federal use of spectrum and the FCC oversees non-federal use. They also agreed that government and industry must agree on parameters and assumptions to enable spectrum use, including sharing. And NTIA discussed a new mechanism to facilitate spectrum sharing.

However, there was no announcement at today's event on when or if the Trump administration plans to release the national spectrum strategy pursuant to a 2018 memorandum signed by President Trump that stressed the importance of efficient government spectrum use, spectrum sharing, and leading the world in 5G deployment (TR Daily, Oct. 25, 2018). The strategy was due in the summer of 2019.

In opening pre-recorded remarks, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross emphasized three administration priorities: (1) winning the race to 5G, (2) focusing on U.S. space commerce dominance, and (3) ensuring that U.S. communications networks and infrastructure are secure.

Regarding the last point, he said a growing number of countries are following the U.S.'s lead in banning Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. equipment from their networks, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Sweden.

Regarding 5G, Mr. Ross cited a number of actions to free up spectrum in the U.S. Most were taken by the FCC, an independent agency that is not part of the executive branch.

In other pre-recorded remarks, Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, discussed the administration's effort that led to an announcement last month that the White House and the Department of Defense have concluded that the 3450-3550 megahertz band can be shared with wireless carriers nationwide at full commercial power levels (TR Daily, Aug. 10).

He said that more than 180 people were involved in the four-month effort and said three key factors to the successful initiative were a clear mandate, participation of experts, and a commitment to proceed based on "trust and mutual respect."

Acting NTIA Administrator Adam Candeub, also in pre-recorded remarks, stressed that NTIA will continue working on spectrum sharing as well as updating its spectrum management systems.

"Within the NTIA, we are looking at the next step in dynamic spectrum access and sharing," said Charles Cooper, NTIA's associate administrator-Office of Spectrum Management.

He said an initiative on a mechanism that is tentatively called incumbent-informing capability would allow federal agencies to populate and update a secure, real-time database with frequency, location, and time of use information. The database would then inform a spectrum access system (SAS), which would govern commercial use of the band.

The framework would give agencies greater control in use of their spectrum and industry licensees greater certainty of spectrum sharing, he said, adding that it could replace environmental sensing capability (ESC), which is used in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band.

NTIA's OSM is working on the initiative with the Defense Spectrum Organization. It will be developed in phases, Mr. Cooper said.

During a panel discussion that featured government officials, Mr. Moorefield said spectrum sharing should be "the new norm," including bidirectional sharing.

"We have to look at new ways to do spectrum management," he said. "Spectrum management must modernize."

DoD supports the current bifurcated spectrum-management structure "as long as its respected and enforced with discipline at all ranks," Mr. Moorefield said.

He also said that Defense Secretary Mark Esper is expected to sign "within the next few weeks or so" an electromagnetic spectrum superiority strategy, which he said "calls for more technology investment, changes to spectrum operations, strong partnerships and collaboration, new policies, and an enterprise approach to spectrum management."

A data strategy also is expected to be released soon, and last week, a command, control, and communication strategy was signed by Deputy DoD Secretary David Norquist, he said.

Regarding the bifurcation of spectrum management, Kate O'Connor, chief minority counsel to the House communications and technology subcommittee and a former NTIA chief of staff, said that NTIA should continue to be the coordinator of federal government spectrum use. She noted that individual agencies have lobbied parties outside the NTIA coordination process. "We really can't have agencies working in their silos," she said. She also spoke positively of DoD's spectrum-sharing RFI.

Victor Sparrow, director of the Policy and Planning Division and acting assistant deputy associate administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, stressed that NASA uses spectrum globally. He also said that NASA has drafted a spectrum strategy.

Asked whether government agencies should be able to lease spectrum for non-federal use, Mr. Moorefield replied, "That's an area that's very challenging for the department. … I'm not sure how to do it." He said DoD would like input on the issue.

Mr. Sparrow said because agencies don't own the spectrum, they can't lease it.

Mr. Moorefield also called for standardization of modeling and simulation with industry, noting that there is often disagreement between the government and industry on data and assumptions on spectrum issues.

"We don't have best practices across the board," Mr. Sparrow agreed, adding that NTIA and the FCC should establish assumptions and deployment scenarios for agencies and industry.

Ms. O'Connor agreed that those issues were important, saying that's why the Spectrum IT Modernization Act was introduced in the House and Senate (HR 7310 and S 3717). The legislation would require NTIA to submit to Congress a plan to modernize its information technology systems for managing spectrum.

NTIA officials said they hope the legislation becomes law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

During a second panel of industry representatives, Mary Brown, senior director-technology and spectrum for Cisco Systems, Inc., said she agreed that spectrum sharing will be the "norm," especially in the enterprise space, while Mr. Sharkey emphasized the benefits of exclusive spectrum access.

Jennifer Warren, VP-technology policy & regulation for Lockheed Martin Corp., praised DoD for helping to forge a spectrum sharing discussion among stakeholders, including in the RFI, which she said asks "some of the tough questions."

She and other speakers also emphasized the need for international harmonization of spectrum bands.

Dave Wright, director-regulatory affairs & network standards at CommScope, Inc., urged an "all-of-the-above" approach to spectrum access and agreed about the need for international spectrum harmonization.

Ms. Brown also advocated for lightly licensed, localized spectrum for enterprises, noting that other countries have moved to make frequencies available for these purposes. "These are solutions that just cry out for sharing," she added.

Mr. Wright said he agreed, adding that Wi-Fi and 5G can meet some of these needs but not all of them.

Mr. Sharkey said the U.S. government has achieved significant progress in making spectrum available in various bands, but he said that the process of freeing up government spectrum "is still fundamentally difficult."

For example, the process for the CBRS band "took too long," Mr. Sharkey said. Mr. Wright noted that it took six years.

Mr. Sharkey said that "on the front end" of discussions about freeing up federal spectrum, there is not enough cooperation, but a "much more cooperative process" follows. He also stressed the importance of cooperation between the FCC and NTIA.

"It feels like we're always two steps forward and one step back," said Mr. Sharkey. "I don't feel like we're still in a place where there's kind of a commonality … to get to a common objective."

He also noted that "[w]e do see agencies going around the process, whether to the Hill or … other sources."

He also said he agreed with Messrs. Moorefield and Sparrow on the need for common tools and understanding of parameters in advance of discussions about particular bands. —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: NTIA FCC FederalNews SpectrumAllocation Congress Cybersecurity

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