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The concept of channel management dates to the development of the radio telegraph by Guglielmo Marconi and his contemporaries. In the age of the Internet, however, channel management is an inefficient way to provide spectrum capacity for mobile broadband. Innovation points to network-centric spectrum management as an effective way to provide spectrum capacity to meet the bandwidth needs of fourth-generation wireless devices.
Network-centric technologies organize the transmission of radio signals along the same principle as the Internet. A transmission moves from origination to destination not along a fixed path but by passing from one available node to the next. When radios are networked using network-centric technologies, individual communications nodes continue to operate and can compensate for failed links. The effects of interference are manageable rather than catastrophic. The network is used to overcome radio limitations. With channel management techniques currently in use, if a channel's link fails, the radio is cut off.
Pooling resources, one of the concepts that powers the Internet now, is likely to become the dominant principle for spectrum management in the future. Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA), Content-Based Networking, and Delay and Disruption Technology Networking, along with cognitive radio, and decision-making software, are examples of technologies that can enable Internet-like management of spectrum resources.
DSA is part of the neXt Generation program, or XG, a technology development project sponsored by the Strategic Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The main goals of the program include developing both the enabling technologies and system concepts that dynamically redistribute allocated spectrum.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is working to implement network-centric operations (NCO) through a number of initiatives. Leadership and support to achieve DOD goals in the crucial area of spectrum management is provided by the Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) created in 2006 within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The DSO is leading DOD efforts to transform spectrum management in support of future net-centric operations and warfare, and to meet military needs for dynamic, agile, and adaptive access to spectrum. The DSO is guiding DOD spectrum management along a path that envisions moving away from stove-piped systems to network-centric spectrum management.