December 1, 2017
The electro-magnetic spectrum is an essential element in an information dependent society. Utilizing spectrum effectively and efficiently is critical to maximizing the economic value of information. Governing access to spectrum has long been recognized as a sovereign right within national borders, and nations coordinate as needed to minimize mutual interference issues. In fact, coordination, which is a key part of spectrum management, is primarily a balance between enabling users to efficiently communicate information through the use of electro-magnetic spectrum while minimizing interference to other users.
Our challenge today is to determine how to best share this finite resource between very different users and services. We continue to project and see new demands for spectrum use as new technologies come of age while few established systems relinquish their need for spectrum access. Negotiations and coordination continues to be the approach, nationally and internationally, for determining how to best meet these resource demands and still ensure that spectrum needed to maintain a safe and secure society are maintained. I’ll discuss the current agenda items being addressed at the International Telecommunications Union as preparations and studies from over 180 countries are being considered and refined for debate at the next World Radio-communications Conference in 2019. I will also discuss notable national spectrum issues.
Beau Backus is a Spectrum Manager at NOAA/NESDIS HQ in Silver Spring, MD, and is a Senior Spectrum Manager in the Space Exploration Sector at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. Mr. Backus is a founding member of the Commercial Smallsat Spectrum Management Association. He serves on the NTIA Policy & Programs Steering Group – Spectrum Working Group; the Space Frequency Coordination Group; the ESA/NASA/JAXA Frequency Coordination Meeting; and the DoD/NASA/DOC Pre-coordination group. He served as a US Delegate to the successful World Radio Conference 15 in Geneva, Switzerland, and is now participating in several ITU and US working parties as we begin to prepare for WRC-19. He chairs the ITU 4A sub-working group for studies relating to the frequency band 51.4−52.4 GHz for possible allocation to the fixed-satellite service (Earth-to-space) (agenda item 9.1.9). Mr. Backus is a former Air Force officer and has been a member of the spectrum management community for over 30 years.