Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G


By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on August 10, 2020

An unprecedentedly quick 15-week review identified 100 mHZ of spectrum, now heavily used by military radars, that will be auctioned off in December 2021.

WASHINGTON: After a remarkably fast interagency review, the White House today announced a massive transfer of electromagnetic spectrum from military use to commercial 5G. It will be the “fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told reporters proudly this afternoon. But, Kratsios and Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy assured reporters ahead of the announcement, the rush won’t compromise military readiness or operations.


Currently, Deasy said, “the 3450-3550 mHZ band supports critical DoD radar operations, including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipboard, and airborne platforms, [including] air defense, missile and gun fire control, counter mortar, bomb scoring [during training exercises], battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and range safety.”

That’s a wide range of military functions, many with life-or-death significance for either training safety or outright combat. Deasy and other officials didn’t detail how the Defense Department would work this massive transfer. Their remarks, however, suggested a mix of migrating military radars to other frequencies – a complex and costly process typically funded from a share of the FCC auction – and sharing frequencies with commercial users in specific times and places.

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Over the past three years, engineers and carriers across the world have largely agreed that 3.5GHz-adjacent radio spectrum is ideal for 5G deployments — a “mid band” compromise between the lower frequencies used by older cellular standards and the higher, shorter-distance millimeter wave frequencies. But in the United States, the Department of Defense (DoD) has controlled much of the mid band spectrum, creating a tension between military and potential consumer applications. Today, the White House announced that the DoD has agreed to relinquish 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum for commercial use, a process that will augment U.S. 5G networks over the next two years.

The White House Announces a Plan to Speed the Rollout of 5G

The Pentagon will share part of the wireless spectrum, allowing telecom carriers to reach more areas with fewer cell towers.

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