Spectrum Management

Written By Daniela Pistoia
630Spectrum Management

Future Electromagnetic Environment and challenges for EMSO

After air, land, sea and space, the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) has become a key domain and enabler for cyber space, too, being the unique resource able to connect physical and virtual domains. Therefore, the capability to master the spectrum and to achieve spectrum superiority will lead to the domination of all domains of warfare, including cyberspace.

EMS has always been militarized, but the dual use nature of EMS, the enormous dependency that the global economy has on EMS-based services and the impacts of miniaturization are combining to create challenges for all nations, because of their reliance on services from EMS.

Nowadays, forces are challenged to assure and maintain access, use, fires and maneuver within the EMS. Adversary actions, commercial development and regulatory constraints make the EMS an increasingly congested, contested and competitive operational environment.

The novel discipline, named Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO), is recently growing, aiming at identifying, organizing and disseminating concept of operations, User requirements, doctrines, resources, materiel and technologies enabling Electromagnetic Spectrum Dominance in peace time, crisis and conflicts.

EMSO demands a level of coordination and synchronization that is impossible without specialized capabilities that support situational awareness, coordination and priority of actions in the electromagnetic environment. Therefore, Command and Control of EMSO as part of a larger C5ISTAR is growing as an emerging need.

Evolution of Spectrum Dependent Systems in a competitive electromagnetic environment

In such a competitive environment, the paradigm is shifting for Spectrum Dependent Systems, creating the need for rapid development and fielding of systems capable of transforming post deployment. As enemy threats become more sophisticated, EW designers need to create systems that can adapt and respond to changes in real time. Such systems have to conform to unseen changes with minimal addition of components/subsystems to support many cycles of countermeasures.

In pursuing this vision, systems must become more spectrally efficient, flexible, and adaptable, and spectrum operations must become more agile in their ability to access the spectrum in order to increase the opportunities available to mission planners.

This includes: (1) increasing the operating frequency range of systems; (2) increasing the ability to share spectrum with other systems; (3) amending rigid processes pertaining spectrum use; (4) increasing the speed of system adaptation; (5) avoiding potential interference with commercial networks and developing near-real-time spectrum operations that integrate spectrum management, network operations, EW, cyberspace, and intelligence operations.

Future requirements for all Spectrum Dependent Systems, from radars to radios, from satellite services to global communications, from telecoms to EW, will be:

(a) Efficiency: the use of the minimum amount of EMS resources necessary to ensure maximum operational effectiveness in fully accomplishing the required mission while taking all practicable steps to minimize impacts to other systems in the EM environment:

(b) Flexibility and Adaptability: the capability of a spectrum-dependent system (SDS) to exploit various opportunities to access spectrum – e.g., multi-band operation, increasing the ability to share spectrum with other systems (domestic or foreign, federal, or non-federal), becoming more tolerant of interference;

(c) Agility: agile spectrum operations will enable spectrum-dependent systems to utilize their flexibility and adaptability to achieve mission success in rapidly changing Electromagnetic environment.

Why a new concept of Spectrum Management is a must

International policies are focusing on repurposing spectrum to stimulate economic growth through commercial applications. Policymakers are making an unprecedented amount of spectrum available for commerce across many radio frequency ranges, in contiguity to spectrum blocks for 5G and other broadband technologies, which are critical for national/international economic prosperity.

Therefore, traditional approaches to Spectrum Management, based on rules and rigid assignment of spectrum slices are destined to fail, given the evolution of all Spectrum Dependent Systems towards a “cognitive” approach to access the spectrum.

The trend is much more oriented to share the spectrum, which offers a new model for greater freedom of action within the spectrum.

Spectrum Sharing is the simultaneous usage of a specific frequency band in a specific geographical area and time by a number of independent entities where harmful electromagnetic interference are mitigated partially through agreements and partially by smart dynamic access, pursuing machine-to-machine technologies that enable cognitive cohabitation in the spectrum and creating logics and architectures more tolerant to interferences.

Spectrum Management as a main component of EMSO Command and Control

Challenges for future Spectrum Management will be:

  • Capability to evaluate in real time the effects of spectrum degraded by adversary EW, neutral interference and lack of communications or Positioning-Navigation-Timing services
  • Exploit SW technologies, including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, enabling Spectrum Dependent Systems to access the EM spectrum in a flexible-adaptable-intelligent way while operating in spectrum degraded environment
  • Be able to generate virtually scenarios of contested and congested spectrum conditions, where resilience and robustness of assessed enabled technologies can be proven, predicted and analyzed.

Spectrum Management is part of the decision making process of the higher echelon of operation or, in other words, can be considered as one of the main component of the EMSO Command and Control.

Future Spectrum Management will exploit a functional architecture based on the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act loop. Those mentioned high-level functions are split in relevant sub functions, such as:

  • Spectrum Monitoring and related Picture compilation
  • Risk assessment and frequency-time prioritization
  • Spectrum planning real-time management
  • Orders and/or options delivery
  • Human Machine Interaction
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