DoD seeks new spectrum-sharing tools

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The Department of Defense continues to move forward with 5G and spectrum-related research and development, with a series of requests for proposed prototype (RPP) for the 400-plus members of the National Spectrum Consortium.

In its third major RPP in recent weeks, DoD is focused on its Operational Spectrum Comprehension, Analytics, and Response (OSCAR) effort. The OSCAR project “will create a software application with unified graphical user interface, automated workflows, sensor network, and extensible framework needed at testing and training ranges for aerial combat training to ensure that spectrum is available when and where needed for AWS-3 impacted systems and incumbent systems,” according to the agency. DoD went on to add that while the focus is AWS-3, the prototype “will be applicable to all spectrum being managed on range so as to not fragment tool suites.”

“OSCAR will enable military aircraft to continue to get the rigorous training they need, while also supporting expanded commercial activity. But the solutions that are developed won’t be limited to domestic use.  They will also support operational capabilities called for in the Joint All-Domain Command and Control and Electromagnetic Superiority strategies,” said National Spectrum Consortium Executive Director Maren Leed in a statement.

DoD also has issued recent RPPs for Risk Informed Spectrum Access (RISA) and Multiband Instrumented Control Channel Architecture (MICCA).

DoD and the National Spectrum Consortium have a five-year transaction agreement worth up to $2.5 billion. That vehicle, the Spectrum Forward Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), is aimed at making it simpler for DoD to work with the approximately 400 U.S. tech and industrial companies who are part of the NSC, which can respond to DoD requests for rapid prototypes and technology development centered around the use of spectrum.

Leed has said that the OTA “builds on past NSC successes in technologies that improve military-commercial sharing and extends the application of those technologies to a broader range of military operations. This new vector for the NSC makes full use of the breadth of our members’ extensive expertise and shows the power gained from truly dual-use technical development.”

DoD has already issued a number of requests under the OTA. The Defense Department in October 2020 awarded $600 million in contracts related to 5G testing and development at five locations, with AT&T, Nokia, Federated Wireless and Ericsson among the recipients.

The specific areas of focus for the Spectrum Forward OTA include 5G; cognitive spectrum sharing; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; narrow-band IoT; autonomous navigation, next generation radio access networks and machine learning, among others.

DoD’s interest in 5G has also extended to the possibility of private 5G networks and the use of dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS); in 2019, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s three-year Spectrum Collaboration Challenge, which explored the efficacy of using artificial intelligence-powered software-defined radios to enable ad hoc dynamic spectrum sharing, culminated in a final event held at Mobile World Congress in Los Angeles.

“Spectrum access is the lifeblood of modern communications and is especially important at a time of global technology competition,” said National Spectrum Consortium Chief Strategy Officer, Vice Admiral Joseph Dyer, USN (ret). “So we strongly encourage our members to collaborate and respond to these important RPPs to support innovation and make sure that our nation’s armed forces can remain agile and utilize spectrum in an efficient, effective manner.”

Additionally, last year, DOD issued four 5G RPPs through the NSC focusing on smart warehouses, AR/VR for training, and dynamic spectrum sharing, part of $600 million in funding that was awarded last year.

Among the recent awards through the NSC:

-Ericsson was awarded $31.4 million for a prototype project on DSS 5G applications.

-Parallel Wireless received $12 million to support the development of a Navy Smart Warehouse 5G network.

-Kumu Network was awarded nearly $5 million for a project focused on 5G deployables with integrated access backhaul.

-Perspecta Labs, the applied research arm of government contractor Perspecta, won a three-year, $6.2 million contract to develop a spectrum access manager.

-Federated Wireless is heading up a 5G Citizens Broadband Radio Service network implementation in Albany, Georgia that will help define how the DoD modernizes its massive logistics operations. Full story here.

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