Two federal agencies are moving forward with conflicting plans to commercialize a valuable chunk of wireless spectrum controlled by the Defense Department, leaving the future of an asset worth tens of billions of dollars in doubt.
The Pentagon is drafting a request for proposals for a new fifth-generation military cellular network that would lease its extra capacity to private-sector users like cellphone carriers, auto makers and factories, according to people familiar with the plan. This RFP includes more specific requirements than a separate request for information released last month and could go public before the Nov. 3 election, the people said.
At the same time, the Federal Communications Commission, the independent agency in charge of licensing airwaves to the private sector, is pursuing a plan to auction some of the same Pentagon-controlled band late next year.
The military currently uses the spectrum for radar and aviation, but the same frequencies