WASHINGTON: Three US senators on Wednesday urged the Biden administration not to strip the Defence Department of key spectrum used for military radar systems in favor of 5G commercial wireless use.
Republican Deb Fischer, Democrat Mazie Hirono and independent Angus King, who all serve on the Armed Services Committee, wrote President Joe Biden saying “pursuing a policy of requiring the Department of Defence to surrender its spectrum for non-federal use would significantly harm DOD’s ability to carry out its missions, increase costs, and adversely affect our national security.”
Industry groups argue the lower 3 gigahertz (GHz) band is used for 5G in nearly 50 countries and that shows commercial use can coexist with US military radar systems.
A group representing wireless carriers said on Wednesday at least 150 megahertz (MHz) can be freed up for commercial use.
The Pentagon in September 2022 said “it would take us two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars” to move radars to another spectrum block.
BD welcomes Biden letter on support for economic goals
A 22-month study by the Defence and Commerce Departments on the feasibility of sharing 3 GHz spectrum has not been released publicly.
In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson for Fischer urged the public release of the report “that explores how industry and the military could share spectrum without harming mission critical capabilities.
She encourages the administration to listen to all stakeholders and find a path forward“.
In December, Alan Davidson, the head of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that oversees US spectrum policy, told Congress, the Pentagon believes “that portion of spectrum is not readily available today you can’t share it now and use it.” But he added “we have real work to do to be able to meet the conditions where we could do more sharing.”
The White House declined to comment on the letter from the senators. In November, the White House announced steps to free up additional spectrum for advanced technology needs and soaring US wireless demand including by repurposing spectrum currently set aside for government use.
The Senate letter argued “at this time it would be counterproductive to initiate additional studies of the lower 3 GHz band.”