U.S. DoD Bets Big on 5G

Fifth-generation (5G) cellular networks are rolling out across the globe. Consumers are happily awaiting a host of new features that will enhance social media, entertainment, and myriad other applications. Public safety and military communications stand to benefit from 5G as well, while 5G non-terrestrial networks (NTN) boost connectivity and capabilities for satellite networks. Beyond these applications, however, little consensus has determined how 5G will impact military applications. That uncertainty quickly changed when the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) unveiled $600 million worth of contracts for five separate installations.

The DoD’s focus is on 5G testing and experimentation, with the goal of boosting warfighting capabilities and ensuring a competitive 5G edge for the U.S. The full-scale 5G tests for dual-use applications will take place across five sites. Each installation will combine industry expertise with military services and academic leadership. The following bases were selected because they can provide efficient access to spectrum bands and mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, according to the DoD. They also support new or improved infrastructure requirements and can conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.

Through large-scale experimentation and prototyping of dual-use 5G technology, these contracts are expected to provide high speeds and quicker response times. They also can connect many more devices, greatly boosting military capabilities. In addition, many of the partners will employ artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cutting-edge approaches in the 5G test beds, which could serve to simultaneously advance those capabilities.

More To Come

This first tranche of awards on 5G experimentation and testing is only an initial step, as additional sites will be announced in the future. The DoD’s goal is to quickly evolve U.S. military capabilities in these and more application areas using 5G, delving into the vast potential applications and dual-use opportunities that can be built upon next-generation networks.

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