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DoD Adds Sites to Study 5G Technology

June 9, 2020
The DoD is showing real interest in 5G technology, having named a total of 12 camps and facilities to experiment how 5G can best serve military needs.

Even the U.S. Department of Defense is getting ready for Fifth Generation (5G) cellular wireless communications technology, or at least how to defend against it on a battlefield. The DoD has announced seven more military installations in the U.S. as places to learn more about 5G through experimentation and testing. The locations are part of the DoD’s 5G development roadmap known as “Department of Defense 5G Strategy.” The added facilities are Naval Base Norfolk, VAJoint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HIJoint Base San Antonio, TXthe National Training Center (NTC), Fort Irwin, CAFort Hood, TXCamp Pendleton, CA; and Tinker Air Force Base, OK. These seven facilities in the second round of 5G study facilities, referred to the DoD as its Tranche 2 selection of research facilities, combine with the earlier five 5G research facilities for a total of 12 locations for 5G research.

The increased data demands of 5G systems compared to earlier cellular wireless communications generations is pushing the use of frequency spectrum well into the millimeter-wave frequency range, at and above 24 GHz. In addition to connecting billions of people via wireless communications, 5G networks will connect many things, many sensors known as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Military bases selected by the DoD earlier for 5G research chores, as part of the Tranche 1 choice of research facilities, are the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; Hill Air Force Base, UT; Naval Base San Diego, CA; Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, GA; and Nellis Air Force Base, NV. All the bases feature analysis and testing capabilities in areas needed to explore phenomena at higher frequencies and wider bandwidths, and the capabilities to explore the performance levels of the latest wireless communications infrastructure equipment.

Although civilian users are looking forward to the availability of 5G systems, it is expected that the technology will play major roles in both military and civilian applications. The DoD is already issuing requests for prototype proposals from industry partners in key areas, including for ship-wide and pier communications at the Naval Station Norfolk, for enhancing aircraft mission readiness at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and for wireless communications for forward operating bases (FOBs) and tactical operations centers (FOCs) at the NTC at Fort Irwin and Fort Hood, TX and for FOBs and TOCs at Camp Pendleton, CA. 

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