The Pentagon is not considering owning and operating its own 5G network, the department’s chief information officer said Wednesday, clarifying that a recent Request for Information is intended to gather industry’s input on ways to share more spectrum in the future.

“It is not our intent to go off and run and operate an independent 5G network inside the DoD,” Dana Deasy, the DoD CIO, told reporters. “The whole purpose of the RFI was we stepped back and said okay it’s very evident that we’re going to continue to have to figure out how to share spectrum, given the trend toward the commercial industry wanting to utilize and leverage spectrum that sits inside of our world.”

The RFI, released on Sept. 18, does pose the following

question to industry: “How could DoD own and operate 5G networks for its domestic operations?  What are the potential issues with DoD owning and operating independent networks for its 5G operations? (Defense Daily, Sept. 21).” 

However, Deasy said the notice is part of an effort to understand dynamic spectrum sharing capabilities that will allow the Pentagon to more easily share spectrum with the commercial sector as industry looks to build out nationwide 5G capabilities. 

“We want to get any and all ideas on how we, as a nation, are going to solve for this issue of commercial industry wanting more spectrum” Deasy said.

In August, the White House announced plans to begin auctioning off 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum, specifically the 3450 to 3550 MHz band, in December 2021 to be ready for use by mid-2022 (Defense Daily, Aug. 10). 

Deasy also told reporters the Pentagon has not heard back from the FCC regarding its opposition to the agency’s approval of Ligado Networks’ plan for a new commercial L-Band network for 5G which DoD officials have said could interfere with military GPS systems. 

“You haven’t heard a lot about it because we haven’t heard a lot about it,” Deasy said.

The Pentagon has submitted a request to place a stay on Ligado’s plan as well as a formal request for the FCC to reconsider its decision but has not heard back on either request, according to Deasy. 

“We believe there’s very compelling technical information in what we provided to the FCC that suggests the decision they were taking was not the correct decision,” Deasy said.