The Department of Defense (DoD) recently released its Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) Strategy to address near-term and longer-term spectrum challenges.1 The DoD EMS Strategy continues the implementation of some of the goals set forth by the Obama Administration in the National Broadband Plan2 and Presidential Memoranda,3 which have called on federal agencies to accelerate efforts to make spectrum available for commercial use and allow shared access to spectrum allocated for federal use. The DoD EMS Strategy strikes a balance between maintaining critical military capabilities and increasing available spectrum for the commercial wireless industry. To achieve this balance, DoD will continue to work closely with other federal agencies, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as with commercial industry.

The DoD EMS Strategy will focus on the following goals:

  • „„ Advancing spectrum-dependent technologies that are more efficient, flexible, and adaptable in their use of spectrum. This will include:
    • Expediting development of technologies that increase a spectrum-dependent system’s ability to access wider frequency ranges, exploit spectrum efficiency gains, utilize less congested bands, and adapt to changing electromagnetic environments;
    • Pursuing spectrum sharing opportunities;
    • Evaluating commercial service capabilities (such as smartphones) for mission use; and
    • Improving DoD’s oversight of spectrum use.
  • „„ Increasing the agility of DoD’s spectrum operations. This will include:
    • Managing spectrum-dependent systems in nearreal- time by developing tools and techniques to quantify spectrum requirements and identify and mitigate spectrum issues;
    • Improving the ability to identify, predict, and mitigate harmful interference; and
    • Pursuing access to spectrum allocated for nonfederal use and spectrum sharing technologies.
  • „„ Encouraging DoD participation in changing national and international spectrum policy and regulation. In particular, DoD will focus on:
    • Developing innovative alternatives that consider both DoD and commercial interests; and
    • Improving its ability to adapt and implement regulatory and policy changes while maintaining full military capability.

To implement its EMS Strategy, DoD will develop, over the course of the next six months, a supporting roadmap and action plan to provide the necessary actions, associated lead organizations, cost, schedule, deliverables, and metrics.4

For government contractors, the new EMS Strategy means that future acquisitions will likely include requirements that seek to ensure weapons (and other) systems adapt to the increasing scarcity and importance of spectrum, that purchasing decisions will feature spectrum efficiency, flexibility, and adaptability as key criteria, and will make critical an understanding of current NTIA and FCC rules as well as evolving DoD policy