The Department of Defense today submitted its report to Congress regarding the feasibility of sharing the 138-144 MHz band with public safety users. A DoD Joint Spectrum Center engineering study identified ways sharing would be possible without interfering with DoD operations.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Spectrum and C3 Policy Steven Price said, "We believe it is possible to share portions of the 138-144 MHz band with public safety users on a limited, coordinated basis. DoD is willing to work with National Telecommunications and Information Administration, state and local governments and first responders on a case-by-case basis to explore sharing the band for the common good."
While the 138-144 MHz band continues to be critical to DoD operations, the department has found it helpful in emergencies to share communication systems with other first responders. 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.
DoD operations that would be affected if this band were interrupted through heavy use of too many channels would include air-surface-air, air traffic control and ground support functions at military airfields, tactical communications for close air support, land mobile radios for sustaining installation infrastructure support and land mobile radios and specialized equipment for training and test range support. Other systems that would be affected include fire and security alarms, and hydrology and utility controls.
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2000 reclaimed for federal, primarily DoD, use of three megahertz in the 138-144 MHz band previously identified, pursuant to requirements of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, for reallocation for mixed federal government and non-federal government uses. As Congress understood, the recovery of 3 MHz was and is crucial to fulfilling DoD's spectrum requirements. However, in the conference report, DoD was asked to provide a technical report assessing the feasibility of sharing the 138-144 MHz band with public safety users. In the fiscal 2001 authorization, Congress directed DoD, in cooperation with the Justice Department and the NTIA, to provide for an engineering study with regard to spectrum sharing in the 138-144 MHz band. The assistant secretary of Defense for Command Control Communication and Intelligence (C3I) has submitted this report to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.
Under direction of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) John Stenbit, the DoD Joint Spectrum Center conducted an engineering study regarding sharing in the 138-144 MHz band. The resultant classified study showed that the areas of operation associated with the DoD frequency usage in the 138-144 MHz band encompasses nearly the entire continental United States. Large distance separations would be required to prevent co-channel and adjacent-channel interference between DoD equipment and potential state and local public safety systems, particularly in the case of DoD air-ground-air radios.