As the U.S. Department of Defense moves forward with exploration of the role that 5G will play in its future, Verizon announced this week that it is lighting up 5G service at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California.
MCAS Miramar is home to 15,000 service members, the 3rd Marine Air Wing and the F35-C aircraft. According to Verizon, the 5G service at MCAS Miramar will provide a “living lab” for military and defense use of the technology, including autonomous transport. Andrés Irlando, SVP and president, public sector and Verizon Connect, said in a statement that Verizon will be working to support new uses cases at the site that ” improve cybersecurity, enhance the use of unmanned ground systems and drone delivery, and more.”
The carrier said that MCAS Miramar is the first military base with access to its 5G Ultra Wideband service. The carrier has also laid the groundwork for 5G service at other military installations as it has provided 4G service.
Lt. Col. Brandon Newell, director of technology and partnerships for the Marine Corps Installation Next program and director of the NavalX SoCal Tech Bridge, which specializes in research and development for the Navy, called the Verizon installation at MCAS Miramar “a critical step to accelerate the nation’s 5G aspirations.
“At Miramar, we are focused on collaboratively exploring 5G-enabled technology in the areas of energy management, connected vehicles, drones, and base security,” he added. “This effort is critical to national security. The establishment of this 5G living lab expedites the nation’s ability to leverage 5G for national defense.”
The Marine Corps Installation Next program focuses on partnering with industry and other agencies on emerging technology; it works with NavalX SoCal Tech Bridge to prototype, pilot, and evaluate emerging tech on installations to better understand the technology and refine the appropriate use cases across the defense sector.
The Installation Next work at MCAS Miramar comes in addition to another DoD program that has identified a dozen sites where the agency wants to test 5G service for various defense-related use cases. DoD says it is “already is heavily involved in investigating how 5G technology will best serve the warfighter,” with experiments ongoing at five sites and seven more to come. The second tranche of testbeds was announced last month, with RFPs expected to follow shortly. Sites are expected to be in place and industry partners working there by this fall.
The second-tranche sites include:
- Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, to evaluate shipwide and pier connectivity;
- Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to evaluate enhancement of aircraft mission readiness;
- Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, to evaluate augmented reality support of maintenance and training;
- The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and Fort Hood, Texas, to look at wireless connectivity for forward operating bases and tactical operations centers;
- Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to evaluate wireless connectivity for forward operating bases and tactical operations centers;
- Joint Base San Antonio and multiple remote locations to evaluate DOD’s 5G core security experimentation network; and
- Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, to evaluate bidirectional spectrum sharing, both in DOD and the commercial sector.
The other five sites include Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, where evaluations are underway for using 5G technology to enhance the warehousing of vehicles such as the Humvee; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and its associated Yakima Training Center, where 5G testing is underway to examine how the technology can enhance augmented reality and virtual reality training; Naval Base San Diego, California; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
“DOD recognizes that industry is driving 5G technology with massive investments in the many hundreds of billions of dollars,” Joseph Evans, DoD’s technical director for 5G, said during a recent news conference at the Pentagon. “Because of that, DOD is working closely with industry partners to leverage those investments for military applications. … 5G technology is vital to maintaining America’s military and economic advantages. 5G will be the advent of ubiquitous connectivity, that is the conductivity of everything and everyone, everywhere, through wireless communications,” Evans continued. “It is a transformational technology. With this latest tranche of bases and experiments, DOD is ensuring that our military can make use of 5G capabilities based on the innovations from U.S. industries.”