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Hill AFB, DoD bases to serve as 5G test bed

A graphic depicting the words 5G technologies over the top of an blue, shaded aerial photo of Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry)

The Department of Defense selected Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Oct. 31, 2019, as one of four U.S. military installations to host testing and experimentation for 5G technology. The other bases chosen as test sites are Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Naval Base San Diego and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry)


In an effort to demonstrate innovative prototypes that use commercial 5G technologies as a way to augment future military capabilities, the Department of Defense chose Hill Air Force Base and three other U.S. military bases including Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Naval Base San Diego and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia. as a test bed for 5G technology.

Frank Konieczny, Air Force chief technology officer, visited Hill AFB, Nov. 20, to meet with the base’s senior leaders and others who will be involved with the project. He said the initiative is a “very important project, one of the most important things we could be doing.”

5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technology. It is the advent of ubiquitous connectivity through wireless communications, and is expected by industry experts to be one of the fastest, most robust technologies the world has ever seen.

Hill AFB was selected for its ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.

DoD leaders expect to release new testing opportunities each quarter, with the focus areas for the first round of experiments having military and commercial relevance. The focus area for Hill AFB is establishing a dynamic spectrum sharing test bed to demonstrate the capability to use 5G in congested environments with high-power, mid-band radars.

“The 5G spectrum sharing experimentation will provide us valuable insight into how we can use 5G when ubiquitous, and provide interconnectivity to meet the needs of the base and the depot of the future,” said Mike Neri, 75th Communications and Information Directorate chief technology officer.

Other focus areas at the four test-bed installations include integrating augmented and virtual reality into mission planning and training, and leveraging 5G’s ability to enhance logistics operations and maximize throughout. The development of 5G technologies will be a collaboration with industry and various government agencies.

Konieczny said it is important for the DoD to remain relevant in 5G technologies as adversaries are heavily investing in 5G to gain military, intelligence and economic advantages. He said in addition to determining future military capabilities, experimentation will aim to overcome significant exploitable security challenges.

Leaders will issue a draft request for proposals for 5G testing this month, ahead of a full solicitation in December. They hope to get contracts into place in early 2020, with actual work on the project starting as early as April.


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