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IT Infrastructure

Pentagon firms 5G experimentation plans

The Pentagon soon will release a draft request for proposals focused on large scale experimentation and prototyping of 5G applications and spectrum sharing.

At the start, DOD is looking at four military facilities as test sites and three use cases. But the numbers of both will likely expand as the project moves forward, said Lisa Porter, deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. She spoke with a group of reporters on a conference call following a presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Los Angeles.

The selected military installations will provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing, the Defense Department said in a statement.

The draft RFP will be released in November, with the final solicitation expected  in December.

The first opportunities will focus on three use cases:

  • Dynamic spectrum sharing for 5G in congested environments with high-power, mid-band radars.
  • Integrating augmented reality and virtual reality into mission planning and training in both virtual and live environments on training ranges.
  • Smart warehouses that can leverage 5G’s ability to enhance logistics.

Spectrum management in the low, mid and high ranges is a priority for DOD, Porter said. “All parts of the spectrum are important,” she said. Parts of the spectrum, particularly the mid-range, are crowded but the usage isn’t constant. Large portions go unused at any one time.“So how do we manage that effectively so DOD has it when it needs it,” she said.

5G is seen as a revolutionary technology that will enable a broad range of capabilities such as smarter sensors, greater information gathering and more computing power at the edge.  But there are security concerns because some of the underlying technologies, particularly the chips, are manufactured elsewhere. So security is an important consideration as well, Porter said.

DOD has been talking to a wide range of companies, from major carriers to equipment manufacturers.

“What we heard is that there is a need for collaboration and a need to do at scale experimentation,” she said.

A value of the contracts haven’t been determined and will depend on budgets, Porter said. But the contracts will be multiple-award. “We also hope to see teams come together,” she said.

This article was first posted to Washington Technology, a sibling site to Defense Systems.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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