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Broadcasters, Defense Department Sign Frequency Pact

NAB, SBE partner with DoD to allow access to certain spectrum at 26 military sites

Concept image of a sphere decorated with the US flag, wearing a broadcast headset, suggesting partnership of the military with broadcasters
Getty Images/ewg3D

The U.S. broadcasting industry is working with military officials to share certain frequencies for the benefit of both.

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Society of Broadcast Engineers said they signed a new joint memorandum of understanding with the Department of Defense to allow non-exclusive access to commercial spectrum at 2025–2110 MHz at 26 U.S. military sites.

The 2 GHz band is used mostly for television ENG trucks and wireless cameras. The Federal Communications Commission prompted the memorandum of understanding giving the military access to the band provided it does not interfere with nor constrain broadcast uses.

“The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to spectrum used by broadcasters for electronic newsgathering and other purposes,” according to the announcement from the SBE.

“DoD activities at these bases will include test and training missions to assure readiness and enhance electromagnetic spectrum superiority.”

The announcement was made by Robert Weller, vice president for spectrum policy at NAB, and Andrea Cummis, president of the SBE.

Weller thanked the DoD and SBE “for working with us to reach an amicable arrangement that ensures a sustainable model for frequency allocation.” Cummis noted that frequency coordination is “one of the foundation pillars” of the society.

SBE said the agreement was the product of seven years of technical study and lab and field tests. It said the memorandum will ensure the coexistence of newsgathering and other broadcast operations with critical military training.

“The spectrum was identified for potential sharing in advance of a spectrum auction that the FCC conducted in 2014 that raised more than $44 billion by converting federal spectrum to flexible commercial use,” it explained.

NAB and SBE said the agreement “demonstrates the commitment of broadcasters and DoD to advance both the nation’s economic prosperity and national security interests, while maintaining public access to critical news and information provided by broadcasters.”

SBE said that at a number of locations, “broadcasters were able to identify ‘home channels,’ spectrum where DoD will have presumptive access, while some locations will require active coordination as is done at major media events such as the Super Bowl.”

The society has a national frequency management office that since 2019 has been headed by RJ Russell, national frequency coordination manager, to handle coordination requests. The office “will ensure consistent analysis and response timing. Previously, coordination was handled at the local level,” SBE said.