Spectrum Management, a military perspective

Spectrum is the so-called enabler of enablers and one of the keys to interoperability.  An adequate level of access to radio frequency bands entails significant efforts to ensure the coexistence of all users without conflict.

 

What’s at stake

Radio spectrum (i.e. frequency range is from 3 kHz up to 300 GHz) is a limited resource and congestion in some frequency bands has increased dramatically as a result of the rapid evolution of telecommunications technologies, the fast expansion of services and increasing market competition. Its important role in the development of the economy, as well as its political visibility, led the States to classify the spectrum as a resource under strict national sovereign control.

National security and defence capabilities, including military aviation, are critically dependent on adequate access to the radio spectrum. The success of most military missions is dependent on access to spectrum resources, in particular to ensure the mobility and interoperability of forces. The military utilisation of spectrum bands must be guaranteed and protected as a joint effort between the civil and military authorities.

As radio wave propagation goes beyond national borders and services are of a global nature, all nations recognise that international coordination and harmonisation on spectrum use and allocation has become fundamental to ensuring an interference-free environment.

The multinational and multi-service facets of today’s military operations call for a permanent pan-European harmonisation of spectrum utilisation conducted in close coordination with authorities and users.

 

How we help

We protect the interests of the aviation community (civil and military) in safeguarding permanent access to the required frequency bands.

In this context, EUROCONTROL is an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) observer. We help draft proposals for the resolutions which will be voted on by the States World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) either by:

  • participating in the meetings of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), which introduces European civil-military aeronautical positions (EACP) with a view to reaching a common European position for each agenda item. To this end, we provide support for the preparation, approval and promotion of the aviation positions for the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) States and ensure that these are recognised by the WRC of the ITU;
  • or by getting involved in the ITU Radiocommunication Work Package 5B (ITU-R WP5B), which is in charge of collecting inter-regional positions on action items for the WRC relating to aeronautical issues.

We also coordinate with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and national military organisations on spectrum matters and support the 'Network Manager' functions.

Finally, we provide an overview of best practices and guidance on the military usage of frequency assignments in the ICAO VHF (Very High Frequency) COM band (117.975 MHz -137 MHz).

Timo Blunck

ATM/CNS Security Expert