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Defense Department designates $600 million for 5G testing at military sites

Defense Department designates $600 million for 5G testing at military sites
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The Department of Defense (DOD) on Thursday announced it has designated $600 million for fifth generation, or 5G, wireless testing and experimentation at five military sites across the nation. 

The funds will be used to help advance DOD’s overall 5G capabilities and include partnerships with academia and leading 5G industry groups, such as AT&T, Nokia and Ericsson. 

The funds will be divided between Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga., Naval Base San Diego and Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. 

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Michael Kratsios, acting under secretary of Defense for research and engineering, said in a statement Thursday that 5G testing and development “will strengthen our nation’s warfighting capabilities as well as U.S. economic competitiveness in this critical field.” 

“Through these test sites, the Department is leveraging its unique authorities to pursue bold innovation at a scale and scope unmatched anywhere else in the world,” Kratsios said. “Importantly, today’s announcement demonstrates the Department’s commitment to exploring the vast potential applications and dual-use opportunities that can be built upon next-generation networks.”

Each of the military bases will focus on different areas of 5G development and testing. Hill Air Force Base will study the use of Air Force radar to share spectrum with 5G cellular services, while Joint Base Lewis-McChord will experiment with 5G-enabled virtual reality military training. 

Naval Base San Diego will work to develop a 5G-enabled “smart warehouse” for shipping, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany will develop a smart warehouse for vehicle storage and Nellis Air Force Base will develop a testbed for the use of 5G technologies in air, space and cyber operations. 

Kratsios, who also serves as U.S. chief technology officer, told reporters during a call Thursday that DOD has plans to begin 5G testing programs at seven other military bases in the next year as part of efforts to “preserve our nation’s technological edge and our military genius.”