• THE BATTLE OF THE BANDS

      Willis, Donald; Federal Aviation Administration (International Foundation for Telemetering, 2004-10)
      Exclusive and globally allocated radio spectrum is essential for safe and efficient air travel. This paper will focus on the impact of changes in both U.S. and international radio spectrum policy, describe the issues these changes have raised for the aeronautical community, and examine a few proposed solutions. First, the paper will put the Federal Aviation Administration in the context of the test and evaluation community. Common frequency usage will be examined and the major interactions between the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Defense, and commercial sector test and evaluation activities. The paper will provide a review of several U.S. spectrum policies from the early-to-mid 90’s which set the stage for the current domestic spectrum policy debates. For example, spectrum auctioning was formally established in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 and further expanded in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Both of these Acts directed the transfer of radio spectrum that was allocated solely for Federal Government use to the private sector. These reallocations also set the stage for more recent domestic spectrum policy debates, such as that over ultrawideband devices, broadband service over powerline carrier, third generation wireless, and other new technologies that claim the ability to “share” radio spectrum with other existing users. The paper will also review international spectrum policy changes that were made within the International Telecommunication Union and their impact on aeronautical radio spectrum. These include reallocation of aeronautical radio spectrum for uses such as wireless local area networks and fixed satellite links. Yet another cause of reduction in the amount of aeronautical radio spectrum will be reviewed…that is, the increase in aeronautical requirements with no attendant increase in the overall aeronautical radio spectrum available. These increasing requirements include such critical spectrum needs as Global Navigation Satellite System modernization, growing applications which use very high frequency (VHF) air/ground radio spectrum, new automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast services, increased aeronautical telemetry needs, and use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the national airspace. This growth has resulted in increasing spectrum congestion in bands that support critical safety services for international civil aviation. Finally, the paper will consider potential solutions to the shortage of aeronautical radio spectrum. These solutions include use of new advanced technologies, “splitting” the current channelization, and changes in radio regulations and frequency engineering criteria. Examples of what the Federal Aviation Administration is doing to implement these solutions will also be briefly addressed.