August 4, 2021
By George I. Seffers
The Network Coverage Overlay can be used to maintain a communications link with robotic vehicles. Credit: U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center photo/Dan Lafontaine

U.S. Army researchers are developing spectrum visualization technology that offers an array of benefits, including the ability to maintain contact with—and control of—remotely controlled vehicles on the battlefield.

Officials assessed the Network Coverage Overlay (NCO), which has been nicknamed “Nico,” during the recent Network Modernization Experiment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

July 17, 2020

Scientific Research Corp., Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded a $28,543,191 hybrid (cost-no-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee) contract to provide a full spectrum of support to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex at Eielson Air Force Base. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of July 15, 2021. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Orlando, Florida, is the contracting activity (W900KK-20-F-0120).

March 1, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
Hardware for 5G networks largely comes from non-U.S. firms. Samsung technology provides the foundation for Sprint Mobile’s 5G network in Chicago. Credit: Samsung

The much-hyped 5G has begun to arrive, but in the United States, the truly transformative elements of these next-generation cellular networks are probably still four or five years off. Although improvements such as 100-times-faster speeds will enable more life-and-death type services, including remote surgery or self-driving cars, they also employ a more compromised hardware supply chain and offer a larger attack surface than current networks, federal officials warn.

“The anxiety from governments and regulators about the security issues [arising from 5G] and possible nation-state interference is at a fever pitch right now,” Robert Mayer, senior vice president for cybersecurity, USTelecom, says.

February 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
While the push for shared spectrum comes from the private sector to support 5G, the Defense Department has to maintain access to warfighters. Warfighters from a spectrum management team in East Africa conduct radio frequency surveys.  Airman 1st Class Brennen Lege, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.

Accessible radio frequencies are crucial for warfighter training, testing and operations. Ensuring access to the necessary electromagnetic spectrum for U.S. Defense Department missions is not an easy task, especially in a time of growing demand across the military and commercial sectors, explains Col. Frederick Williams, USAF, acting director of the Office of Spectrum Policy and Programs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD. The military operates in a wide range of spectrum bands, both on an exclusive and shared basis. In the last several years, Defense Department operational requirements for spectrum access have increased.

December 11, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Department has added to new 5G-related requests for prototype proposals to its efforts with the National Spectrum Consortium. Credit: Wit Olszewski/Shutterstock

The U.S. Defense Department has released two more draft requests for prototype proposals seeking fifth-generation (5G) wireless solutions. The newly announced projects are for smart warehousing and asset management for Naval Supply Systems Command and augmented reality and virtual reality at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

June 17, 2019
By Brian Wright
An agreement to share the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum will benefit the U.S. Defense Department and the rest of the country. Credit: GDJ/Pixabay

Anyone who has worked in the Pentagon or on almost any military installation can attest to wireless connectivity problems. Whether dealing with a dearth of cellular service, inadequate Wi-Fi or security blockers, service members and civilians have felt the frustration of not being able to access information or communicate effectively.

May 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Anthony “Tony” Montemarano, DISA executive deputy director, speaks about workforce challenges at TechNet Cyber. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is challenged with a significant personnel shortage, including information technology, spectrum and cybersecurity experts.

Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton, DISA director and commander of the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN), told the audience at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 conference in Baltimore that the agency is seeking to hire personnel in a number of areas.

October 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
DARPA officials envision a future battlefield made up of a collection of smaller systems in all warfighting domains communicating with one another and tailored to each mission.

The director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Steven Walker, pictures the future battlefield as a mosaic of lower-cost, less complex systems linked together in a vast number of ways to create desired, interwoven effects tailored to any scenario. The agency, known as DARPA, is standing up a new program office and investing in an array of technologies, from artificial intelligence to robotics to systems for hypersonic flight and space, to make that picture a reality.

July 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
It may be only a matter of time before first responders using mobile devices can share emergency data by piggybacking on spectrum donated by public television broadcasters.

It may be only a matter of time before first responders using mobile devices can share emergency data by piggybacking on spectrum donated by public television broadcasters. The datacasting capability allows one person to broadly share video or other data without running out of bandwidth or clogging traditional communication channels.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T’s) datacasting project has made major strides and will engage in two pilot demonstrations in the coming months before undergoing testing in the next fiscal year, which could lead to widespread deployment.

April 11, 2018
By Tracy Sharpe
All domains—air, land, sea, space and cyber—depend on the availability of radio frequency spectrum. Credit: DISA

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is increasing the warfighter’s ability to operate in the complex spectrum environment by providing operational support through electromagnetic battlespace planning, radio frequency deconfliction and joint spectrum interference resolution. DISA’s Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) ensures the agency and the DOD maintain information dominance through effective electromagnetic spectrum operations.

October 17, 2016
The National Science Foundation has announced 11 awards to enhance public access to radio frequency spectrum.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced 11 awards, totaling $12 million, to support activities aimed at enhancing the public's access to the radio frequency spectrum, the part of the electromagnetic spectrum used to facilitate telecommunications and modern information systems essential for public safety, transportation and national defense.

These three-year awards continue NSF's ongoing investment in radio spectrum research, which over the past five years has supported more than 140 awards through an investment of over $60 million.

July 20, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
DARPA's Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) aims to ensure that the exponentially growing population of military and civilian wireless devices will have full access to the increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum.

The Defense Department’s futuristic research agency has finalized its contest plans—backed by nearly $4 million in prizes—for the creation of a radio that can withstand wireless congestion.

It’s an ambitious competition led by the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) to expand the communications capacity of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially at a time when the explosion of wireless devices and the dawning of the Internet of Things era has placed such a heavy demand for access to such a finite resource.

May 4, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division conduct fast rope insertion extraction techniques with their Marine Corps and Air Force counterparts. Elements of the 25th participated in the Army’s recent Cyber Blitz exercise, which will help define the future of cyber and spectrum warfare.

The U.S. Army last week completed an exercise designed to further define how the service adapts operationally to modern threats, including cyber attacks and electromagnetic warfare. During the exercise, the Army tested the cyber-electromagnetic activities (CEMA) cell concept within a brigade combat team and introduced new, yet-to-be-fielded technologies.

May 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division sets up radio communications inside an abandoned fortress in Afghanistan’s Parwan province. Warfighters’ lives often depend on adequate access to radio spectrum. An NSF effort to improve spectrum access will benefit all users, including military, government and industry.

National Science Foundation officials are awarding several grants in the coming months earmarked for research on enhancing access to the electromagnetic spectrum. The grants are part of an effort to identify bold new concepts that could significantly improve the efficiency of radio spectrum usage for all consumers, including the military, government agencies and industry.

The foundation aims to award grants for its Grand Challenge, which falls under the Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum (EARS) program, by the end of September, reveals Thyaga Nandagopal, the EARS program manager. Officials expect up to eight awards totaling $10 million. Each grant will have a limit of $1.5 million for three years.

May 1, 2016
By Richard DeSalvo
Soldiers use a Stryker vehicle integrated with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 Soldier Network Extension capability to extend radio networks and provide advanced network communications at the tactical edge.

In decades past, designers assumed there always would be plenty of spectrum to go around and built their systems accordingly. Strategists and tacticians did the same when crafting operational plans. Availability, the potential for interference and the need to defend against an attack were considerations but not driving factors. 

May 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
A U.S. Navy cryptologic technician monitors the electromagnetic spectrum of air and surface contacts in the combat information center aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage in 2014.

Begin with the end in mind. That is the Federal Communications Commission’s approach to secure and facilitate the use of mobile broadband and next-generation wireless technologies operating at higher frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its goal is to encourage the exploitation of spectrum and insist that cybersecurity be built-in from the get-go rather than as an afterthought, says Rear Adm. David Simpson, USN (Ret.), chief of the commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

May 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Two EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft fly over Turkey to support combined task force operations. The analog-to-digital converter chip being developed by DARPA ultimately could benefit a wide range of communications, radar and electronic warfare systems.

U.S. Defense Department researchers recently announced the development of an analog-to-digital converter chip that processes spectrum at the previously unheard of rate of 60 billion times per second—fast enough to potentially ensure the uninterrupted operation of spectrum-dependent military systems, including communications and radar, in contested and congested electromagnetic environments.

December 30, 2015

MacAulay-Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio, has been awarded a $40 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Spectrum Warfare Evaluation Assessment Technology Engineering Research. Contractor will provide research and development in the areas of radio frequency sensor assessment for electronic support, electronic attack and electronic protection with a primary focus on active countermeasures evaluation and assessment for threat radar and communication systems in a free space radiation environment. Work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and is expected to be complete by December 29, 2022. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with five offers received.

November 3, 2015

CACI Technologies Inc., Chantilly, Virginia (FA8650-16-D-1848), and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado (FA8650-16-D-1849), have each been awarded a multiple award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, with a shared ceiling value of $49,500,000, for spectrum warfare assessment technologies research and development. The contractors will provide for applied and advanced research and development to conduct leading-edge system-of-systems spectrum warfare applications and advanced technology development.

September 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
The growth in cellular connectivity is impelling service providers to seek more bandwidth to allow users to download whatever files—including streaming video—they wish onto their handheld devices. However, this push for more bandwidth may run afoul of efforts to build the Internet of Things, which also will require portions of the spectrum to link diverse hardware.

Technology developers and commercial service providers are racing to exploit elements of the radio frequency spectrum with advances that could be at odds with each other. Increased consumer demand for wireless services is driving providers to develop new capabilities for their systems, and the emerging Internet of Things has hardware firms vying for standard-setting technologies that would define the marketplace for future generations.

September 2, 2015

Leidos Inc., Reston, Virginia, has been awarded a $7,890,740 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for a research project under the Shared Spectrum Access for Radar and Communications (SSPARC) program (Coexistence Phase 2). The contractor will continue research in the area of spectrum sharing between radar and communications systems to build on prior work carried out in the coexistence thrust of Phase 1. Fiscal 2015 research and development funds in the amount of $5,352,607 are being obligated at the time of award.

January 13, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor

While cybersecurity is getting big play in the news these days—as it well should—three topics require just as much attention but have not yet hit the big time. Acquisition, spectrum and interoperability may not have the headline-grabbing charm of the hack into the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter account, but they are issues that need the same serious attention.

For years, industry and government personnel have agreed that the system for purchasing information technology systems needs change—serious change. The complicated acquisition process not only puts out-of-date technology in warfighters’ hands, it puts lives in danger.

October 1, 2014

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum, Maryland (FA8650-14-D-1731); Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia (FA8650-14-D-1732); Leidos, Reston, Virginia (FA8650-14-D-1733); Dynetics, Inc., Huntsville, Alabama (FA8650-14-D-1734); Berrie Hill Research Corp., Dayton, Ohio (FA8650-14-D-1735); MacAulay Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio (FA8650-14-D-1736); and Riverside Research Institute, New York, New York (FA8650-14-D-1737), have been awarded a $47,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for research and development for the Advanced Novel Spectrum Warfare Environment Research program.

January 28, 2013
George I. Seffers

Alion Science and Technology, McLean, Va., was awarded a $1.5 million contract by the Spectrum Policy and Programs office, within the Defense Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, to study the impact of potentially reallocating or sharing the radio frequency bands between the military and commercial sector. Alion will assist in developing a long-term spectrum strategy that will anticipate, guide and respond to changes in technology, policy and regulation and ensure spectrum access for all current and future military systems.

September 22, 2010
By George Seffers

Alion Science and Technology Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, has been awarded a nearly $9 million contract to provide the U.S. Army research and development on identifying and securing access to radio frequencies, spectrum supportability and efficiency risk assessment, electromagnetic analysis, and equipment spectrum certifications. The U.S. Air Force 55th Contracting Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is the contracting activity.

July 23, 2010
By Henry Kenyon

Spectrum, Newport News, Virginia, has appointed Ralph Wade as chief strategy officer and vice president, National Capital Region.

November 2010
By George I. Seffers


The Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access-based radio served as the primary Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) prototype used for developing and testing DSA technologies in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Next Generation (XG) Program. It was developed by the Shared Spectrum Company and was generically referred to as the XG Prototype Radio.

November 2010
By Maryann Lawlor


Rodney Smith (l) and Ted Krainski, members of the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on-the-move (C4ISR OTM) team, set up radios as static nodes. Dismounted soldiers interacted with these "static soldiers," passing scripted voice and situational awareness traffic between squad leaders to the riflemen.

May 2008
By Maryann Lawlor