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Spectrum managers clear the air for AFLCMC success

Staff Sgt. Geoffery Smith, 20th Communications Squadron installation spectrum manager, views the display on a radio spectrum analyzer at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., in Janurary 2017. Spectrum managers across the Air Force plan, provide and preserve access to the electromagnetic spectrum for Department of Defense activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Staff Sgt. Geoffery Smith, 20th Communications Squadron installation spectrum manager, views the display on a radio spectrum analyzer at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., in Janurary 2017. Spectrum managers across the Air Force plan, provide and preserve access to the electromagnetic spectrum for Department of Defense activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – While program office personnel here acquires and supports war-winning capabilities around the globe, the installation spectrum management office here supports the wavelengths to get them there.

The spectrum management office, under the 66th Communications and Information Division (SC) here, ensures access and credibility of the electromagnetic spectrum for Air Force activities, keeping signals from crossing in the air.

“Spectrum management is the function of anything that radiates a signal, such as radios, radar, or satellite communication,” said Jim Conrad, Hanscom’s lead spectrum manager. “Our office is responsible for getting that equipment certified and licensed to transmit.”

Conrad said the spectrum is filled with competing military, commercial, private and civilian frequencies.

The certification process ensures the equipment not only operates the way it should, but will not interfere with other authorized users and jam the signals.

“Interference with adjacent signals can create significant collateral damage,” said Conrad. “It could interrupt critical information or interrupt someone trying to dial 911 from a cell phone.”

Conrad said the certification and licensing process should be done at the beginning of every project, before global communications for events such as natural disaster relief missions could be affected.

“It’s a very technical process with different regulations depending on if the equipment is in the contiguous U.S. or if we’re operating in a host nation,” he said. “It’s easier to complete this step first than have to backtrack through the approval process.”

Additional information can be found on the Hanscom Spectrum SharePoint site or by emailing 66.ABG.Hanscom.Spectrum@us.af.mil.

Complete guidance for spectrum management can be found in Air Force Instruction 17-220.