Pentagon awards National Spectrum Consortium new $2.5B deal

By Justin Doubleday / December 16, 2020 at 10:19 AM

The Pentagon has awarded the National Spectrum Consortium a five-year, $2.5 billion other transaction agreement to continue running a range of wireless technology experiments for the military, the group announced today.

The “Spectrum Forward” OTA’s goal “is to facilitate a partnership between the U.S. Technology and Industrial base and the U.S. Government to develop dual-use technologies across a range of advanced technologies that rely upon electromagnetic spectrum from machine learning to autonomous navigation to next-generation radio access networks,” according to a statement released by the NSC.

“The United States has been the global leader in mobile technologies for decades,” Sal D’Itri, chairman of the NSC, said as part of the group’s announcement. “Now, as 5G takes hold, we need to invest in the development of a new wave of capabilities that will once again redefine the technology landscape.”

The consortium has 384 members including traditional defense contractors, telecommunications corporations, small technology businesses and universities, according to its website. The NSC itself is managed by Advanced Technology International.

The consortium was initially established in 2015 under a five-year, $1.25 billion OTA to help the Pentagon manage electromagnetic spectrum access for military systems. Over the past two years, the group has served as the primary venue for the Pentagon’s fifth-generation wireless technology prototyping activities.

The NSC awarded $600 million in 5G prototyping awards in October, with more awards planned for early next year.

The Defense Department has requested nearly $500 million for 5G prototyping in fiscal year 2021. DOD officials are looking to use 5G technologies for a range of applications, including dynamic spectrum sharing technologies, smart warehouse prototypes, virtual reality training and disaggregated command-and-control systems.