Defense Department to Test 5G


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The Department of Defense plans to issue a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) in November focused on “large-scale” experiments and prototyping of 5G technologies to take place at four U.S. military bases. The DoD sees this as a project that private industry can take part in as well, and says the telecom industry will have an opportunity to provide feedback before the final RFP is issued.

“The DoD wants our American industry to lead in 5G. A strong American economy is vital to our national security,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Lisa Porter during remarks at GSMA MWC19 Los Angeles

Porter told reporters after her remarks that, “the uses cases we’re looking at have obvious military and commercial relevance,” according to FedScoop.

“5G is really ultimately about ubiquitous connectivity,” she said. “It’s not just cell phones and cat videos. One thing we can confidently say is there’s going to be a lot of complexity. And with complexity comes much greater attack surfaces, much more vulnerability — we have to understand those, and as we work through use cases that are relevant to us and relevant to the commercial sector, what we hope we can do together is understand how we mitigate those vulnerabilities and get out ahead of that.” 

DoD will work with the FCC, NTIA and other partners to figure out how best to share available spectrum. Right now, the DoD plans to issue the final RFP in December, but it said in a news release the timing depends on passage of a 2020 defense appropriations bill. The first round of opportunities will focus on three areas.

  • Establishing a dynamic spectrum sharing testbed to demonstrate the capability to use 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 to leverage 5G’s ability to enhance logistics operations and maximize throughput.

Bases chosen for testing and experimentation will provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure; they will also provide access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.

Proposed projects should demonstrate innovative prototypes and approaches to employing new commercial technologies that enhance military capabilities and speed 5G deployment. DoD plans to add new opportunities roughly every quarter, pending funds availability, and will hold an “Industry Day” prior to issuing the final RFP.

October 25, 2019

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