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Spectrum 101: An Introduction to Spectrum Management

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Technical rept.

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In the past, the availability of spectrum was a minor issue for the Department of Defense DoD, as there was ample spectrum access to meet its needs. However, today, new technologies, the needs of other users, and the proliferation of wireless technologies worldwide have made maintaining even current spectrum allocations difficult. New, exciting wireless communication products are creating a large demand for spectrum. Wireless subscriber services are growing rapidly worldwide. Emerging countries are choosing to deploy wireless infrastructure in lieu of wired infrastructure since it costs less. All of these factors make a more competitive environment for worldwide spectrum access. As the recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq can attest, the DoD achieves much of its military capability from exploiting technology, especially information technology. Military capability is dependent on spectrum availability and the current military transformation will make it more dependent in the future. Unless the DoD manages spectrum smartly it will forfeit its potential capability. This paper has been written to provide an introduction to Spectrum Management with a DoD perspective. It assumes an audience that is unfamiliar with radio communications theory, with the current allocation and use of spectrum, and with the processes involved in managing spectrum. It begins by providing an introduction to basic concepts in radio communications theory to build the novices intuition so that heshe might subsequently understand the rationale for the current allocations and the methods for managing spectrum. It attempts to give a historical record of how these processes and allocations came to be. It describes the current spectrum management process to include the major players and the procedures they use to make decisions. Finally, it gives a brief introduction to some new technologies that are being introduced and their ramifications on the spectrum management process.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Radiofrequency Wave Propagation
  • Radio Communications

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