By: Marcus Weisgerber
I first talked to a military official about the electromagnetic spectrum about a dozen years ago during a visit to Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The commander of the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron was trying to figure out whether and how wind turbines could interfere with military equipment. These days, military and industry types are wondering much the same about new 5G cellphone networks. Since my knowledge doesn’t extend far beyond some basic wireless networking in my house, I chatted with Jay Moorman, group president of wireless solutions group at LGS Innovations.
While the company — whose work spans the government, military, and commercial sectors — is only five years old, its roots go back to the 1930s and Bell Labs.
“The concerns and challenges of spectrum are not new, but there have been some things that have changed in the last couple of years that have accelerated the concerns both commercially and in the government space,” Moorman said.
It’s no secret that more and more devices communicate wirelessly these days — go ahead and count the number of devices connected in your home or office right now. Computers, cell phones, tablets, TVs, thermostats, smoke detectors, even light bulbs. Now go outside your home: parking meters, vending machines, taxi cabs — everything is becoming more and more connected.
“As the demand for spectrum and wireless content and connectivity increases from the commercial side, it drives the need to basically use whatever spectrum is available,” Moorman said. “Spectrum, being a very fixed resource, there’s only so much of it there.”
And we constantly want more speed on our mobile devices because it’s no fun waiting for your Instagram feed to load. Wireless providers are rushing to roll out 5G networks because of our insatiable need for speed. (China’s companies, meanwhile, are explicitly trying to beat their U.S. competitors to market — for national-security reasons as much as business ones.