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[*] posted on 24-10-2019 at 05:04 PM
5G: Pentagon Asks Tech Sector For Help

Four military installations, yet to be named, will host experiments in VR training, tracking supplies in “smart warehouses,” and – most importantly – sharing scarce spectrum.

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on October 23, 2019 at 5:23 PM

WASHINGTON: The Defense Department will release a draft Request For Proposals next month, asking the private sector for ideas on how to apply 5G network technology to military purposes — including fixing glaring security problems with the new technology. After getting feedback from industry, the Pentagon will revise the RFP and issue a final version in December – that is, officials caveat, if Congress passes the currently-gridlocked 2020 funding bills in time.

While the Pentagon has many uses in mind, one constant across all of them must be cybersceurity, said the Deputy Under Secretary for Research & Engineering, Lisa Porter.

“A big part of what we want to make sure we do is piece together with industry how we address the vulnerabilities that are going to emerge in 5G,” she told reporters in a conference call. “5G is really ultimately about ubiquitous connectivity, right, it’s not just cellphones and cat videos, it’s really everything getting connected to everything else.” This internet of things has huge potential for both civilian and military applications, she said, but “there’s going to be a lot of complexity. With complexity comes much greater attack surfaces.”

Porter announced the proposal this morning at Mobile World Congress ‘19 in Los Angeles. It’ll be a step by step approach, she emphasized, starting with experimental pilot projects at four Defense Department installations on US territory. (Which ones, she wouldn’t disclose). Those first four sites would conduct experiments in one or more of three “use cases”:

Virtual and augmented reality for training and mission planning. The Army in particular is exploring large-scale “synthetic” training exercises, with numerous users interacting with each other and simulated enemies, both in purely virtual environments and while moving around in the real world. (Think Pokémon Go, only with enemy soldiers superimposed on your field of vision instead of cartoon monsters). That requires a network with unprecedented bandwidth, something 5G technology is meant to deliver.

“Smart warehouses” that use 5G networks to track supplies. Ever since mislabeled shipping containers went missing in the massive iron mountains built up in supply dumps for the first Gulf War, the military’s been interested in radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track shipments. But manually scanning the RFID tags and recording what each says is a labor-intensive process, making an automated, networked system more attractive.

“Dynamic spectrum sharing” between different military functions – for example, Porter said, between wireless communications networks and radar, which both use mid-band radio frequency transmissions – and even between the military and the commercial sector. Historically, the US has allocated specific blocks of frequencies in specific geographical areas to one and only one user, be that a public agency or a private entity: If the designated user isn’t transmitting at a particular time, no one else is allowed to use the idle frequencies. That inefficiency is becoming untenable as more and more wireless devices demand more and more spectrum to transmit and receive, pushing both industry and the military to explore constantly re-allocating frequencies to whoever needs them most at the moment, much like an air traffic controller sends different airplanes to different altitudes to avoid collisions.

Subsequent “tranches” of the project will bring in more Defense Department sites, potentially including some overseas while exploring additional use cases Porter told reporters. “We’re going to be rolling this out in tranches [and] learn as we go,” she said.

So far, Porter said, it’s the spectrum-sharing initiative in particular that has “gotten a lot of attention.” Industry is especially excited at the idea of potentially time-sharing some of the precious mid-band frequencies currently reserved for military use.

Mid-band lies at a sweet spot on the spectrum, with frequencies high enough to transmit lots of information fairly quickly – bandwidth – and wavelengths long enough to penetrate most obstacles. (The higher a transmissions’ frequency, the shorter its wavelength, and vice versa). By contrast, low-band transmissions have longer wavelengths that penetrate obstacles even better, making them highly reliable connections, but their frequency is so low they transmit information at a very low rate.

Meanwhile, 5G is now opening up the possibility for high-band millimeter wave frequencies that can transmit vast amounts of information per second, but their wavelengths are so short they’re easily stopped by obstacles, like “the roof of your car or a rain cloud,” as puts it.

The Defense Department has already sought input from a host of companies, Porter and Pentagon 5G tech director Joe Evans said, representing the whole “ecosystem” from makers of microelectronics to major service providers. It’s even created a special outreach office to work with the private sector on 5G.

And in an earlier Request For Information (RFI) that went out through the National Spectrum Consortium, Evans said, “we received over 260 responses laying out ideas.”

That’s the scale and enthusiasm the Pentagon is hoping to tap into for this new 5G project, so the US can catch up to global leaders in the field – like China.
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[*] posted on 5-11-2019 at 09:28 AM

Pentagon selects US bases to host 5G network experiments

Carlo Munoz, Washington, DC - Jane's International Defence Review

04 November 2019

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has identified several US bases that will be test sites for the Pentagon’s wide-ranging effort to integrate 5G technologies into US armed forces facilities worldwide.

Pentagon officials selected US Army Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Naval Base San Diego in California, and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia as the first four US bases to receive prototype platforms and software linked to the department’s 5G effort.

“The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fibre 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,” according to a 31 October DoD statement.

The facilities will likely be used for experimentation efforts linked to a draft request for proposals (RFP) to be issued by DoD leaders in November. The draft RFP looks to exploit emerging 5G capabilities for military use via “large-scale experimentation and prototyping” in several different areas, according to a 23 October Pentagon statement on the proposal’s pending release.

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[*] posted on 22-11-2019 at 03:58 PM

To protect GPS satellites, Esper is against private 5G proposal

By: Nathan Strout   8 hours ago

Ligado Network's plan to use L-Band spectrum for 5G could disrupt GPS, the Secretary of Defense claims. (Lockheed Martin image)

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wants the Federal Communications Commission to reject a proposal by Ligado Networks to use L-Band spectrum for 5G, claiming that the system could jeopardize GPS services.

“I believe there are too many unknowns and the risks are far too great to federal operations to allow Ligado’s proposed system to proceed. All independent and scientifically valid testing and technical data shows the potential for widespread disruption and degradation of GPS services from the proposed Ligado system,” Esper wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai dated Nov. 18. “This could have a significant negative impact on military operations, both in peacetime and war.”

Esper’s letter is the most recent foray into a battle between the military and Ligado Networks over the use of 40 MHz in the L-Band spectrum, which the company wants to utilize for 5G services.

In October 2018, Ligado Networks announced a multi-year strategic plan to launch a satellite loaded with 5G-enabling technologies and deploy a terrestrial 5G mobile network. That proposal, however, has stalled before the FCC, which needs to approve the plan.

But here’s the hitch: While that spectrum is licensed by the company, L-Band is also how the Air Force’s GPS satellites communicate.

Operated by the Air Force, the GPS satellites provide positioning, navigation and timing data that is essential for modern day life, enabling everything from credit card transactions to real time directions on people’s smartphones. It is also critical to providing the U.S. military the information advantage it believes it needs to stay ahead of adversaries.

Due to the proximity of the 40 MHz spectrum Ligado Networks wants and the spectrum used by GPS, the government has been hesitant to approve the company’s plans to build a new 5G network there.

In December 2018, the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Timing and Navigation recommended against approving Ligado Networks’ request to use the spectrum. And following that decision, then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent a letter in April recommending the FCC reject the company’s proposal.

Ligado Networks did not respond to a request for comment. In June, Doug Smith, the company’s chief executive, released a statement expressing frustration with the drawn out FCC process.

“For the past three-and-a-half years, Ligado Networks has worked with industry and government stakeholders on a plan that will finally unlock our lower mid-band spectrum for 5G. We have participated in testing, analysis, studies, workshops, reviews, and meetings, and time after time, we have accepted the burden to resolve concerns by modifying our plan. We have patiently waited for an FCC decision allowing our company to make additional investments that industries here in America so desperately need,” he stated.

According to the company’s past statements, major GPS manufacturers have said Ligado Networks’ proposal would not degrade the capabilities of GPS devices.

Despite the company’s efforts, they have not been able to allay the government’s concerns.

“I request that the FCC reject the license modification request and not allow the proposed system to be deployed,” Esper said.
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[*] posted on 2-4-2020 at 08:33 PM

DoD Presses Industry For 5G Spectrum Sharing Prototype Ideas

DoD hopes that sharing spectrum will help lower costs and create a sustainable 5G industrial base as it battles to keep up with China.

By Theresa Hitchens

on April 01, 2020 at 4:18 PM

WASHINGTON: DoD issued its eagerly awaited request to industry today for prototypes that could allow private companies and the military to share the radio-frequency spectrum needed to underpin 5G cellular communications.

Industry anticipates that spectrum-sharing will allow expansion of their 5G operations and markets; DoD hopes that sharing spectrum will help lower costs and create a sustainable 5G industrial base as it battles to keep up with China.

The Request for Prototype Proposal (RPP) calls for industry input into technology development related to “dynamic spectrum sharing testbed, enhancement and applications at Hill Air Force Base (Hill AFB) and Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) in Utah,” explains the National Spectrum Consortium in a press release today.

The consortium serves as a contracting agent between DoD and its member companies. The consortium is currently under a Section 815 Prototype Other Transaction Agreement with the Army Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, on behalf of the deputy assistant secretary for emerging capabilities’ prototyping office.

This is the fourth in a series of DoD RPPs related to 5G development issued over the past month. It is perhaps, as Sydney reported in October, the most highly anticipated of the lot because it is focused on high-value mid-band frequencies now dedicated solely to military uses. These frequencies provide high enough bandwidth to transmit lots of information fairly quickly, and they use wavelengths long enough to penetrate most obstacles.

“The DOD today released the latest in a series of 5G-related request for prototype proposals, this one focused on expanding mid-band spectrum sharing. This effort will demonstrate mid-band spectrum sharing critical to our national 5G plan. Sharing technology can bring spectrum to market while protecting and enhancing future military capabilities.” retired Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer, chief strategy officer at the consortium, said.

In mid-March, the Pentagon issued two 5G “Smart Warehouse” RPPs for technology development at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga. and Naval Base San Diego. Smart warehouses would use 5G networks to create an automated network able to track supplies and shipments via radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

A third RPP also was issued in March for Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality prototypes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. AR/VR systems currently are being explored by all the services for enhancing training, as well as mission planning.

According to the consortium, DoD is looking to fulfill the following requirements with the spectrum-sharing effort:

- NSC-20-2070 – 5G Prototype Testbed to design, construct and operate a localized, private full scale 5G mobile cellular network in order to evaluate the impact of the 5G network on airborne radio systems.
- NSC-20-2080 – 5G Prototype Enhancements specifically to enhance dynamic spectrum sharing and spectrum co-existence capabilities.
- NSC-20-2090 – 5G Prototype Applications to design, construct and deploy a Spectrum Coexistence and Sharing (SCS) system to identify and demonstrate deployable SCS.
Full proposals are due May 15.
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[*] posted on 12-5-2020 at 12:27 PM

US Risks Losing 5G Standard Setting Battle To China, Experts Say

"We need some coherency around what we're actually doing on the public policy front, and we need some more technical coordination ... so we could at least be at the stage where we're still on the field, versus sitting on the sidelines trying to figure out how to catch up," said Brookings fellow Nicol Turner Lee.


on May 11, 2020 at 3:46 PM

WASHINGTON: The United States needs to take a stronger role in setting international standards for 5G networks or risk losing the international market to China and undercutting US national security.

Washington is faltering due to a lack of coherent policy on a wide swathe of foundational issues such as spectrum management for 5G usage, network supply chain security, infrastructure development and data sharing, experts say.

As Breaking D readers know, the question of spectrum access is at the heart of DoD’s fierce battle to overturn the FCC’s approval last month of a plan by Ligado to convert L-band spectrum for satellites to build a terrestrial 5G mobile communications network that DoD and many other US agencies say will jam GPS receivers.

“The US-China competition is essentially about who will control the global information technology infrastructure and standards,” said Frank Rose, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and former assistant secretary of State for arms control, during a Brooking’s webinar on Friday. “I think an argument can be made that in the 21st century, whoever controls the information infrastructure will dominate the world.”

The webinar, called “Global China: Assessing China’s technological reach in the world,” was based on a new series of Brookings’ papers on topics ranging from Chinese plans for 5G, its progress in developing artificial intelligence (AI) weapons systems to biotechnology.

The panel discussion echoed the concerns raised by a group of powerful Republican senators in an April 14 letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe, the senators worried that the Trump administration’s moves to blacklist Chinese 5G behemoth Huawei (about which Sydney has written extensively) are in effect pushing the US into international irrelevance as Washington struggles to set a unique domestic path for network development.

Commerce put Huawei on its so-called entity list last May citing national security concerns, and in August expanded its list of related entities subject to restricted US sales. Despite President Donald Trump’s wild swings on whether to keep or lift the ban, those restrictions still stand.

“Since Huawei’s designation on the Department’s Entity List in May 2019, U.S. technology leaders have been constrained from full participation in 5G standards-setting bodies because of uncertainty over whether such participation is prohibited by the Commerce Department’s export control regulations. We are deeply concerned about the risks to the U.S. global leadership position in 5G wireless technology as a result of this reduced participation, and the economic and national security implications of any diminished U.S. role in 5G,” the senators wrote.

Such standards bodies include the influential private-sector Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the widely-recognized International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that sets global standards for spectrum usage. China’s Houlin Zhao currently holds the ITU Secretary-General post, and China has been extremely active in ITU work to establish standards for 5G — an issue that the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission raised in its 2018 report to Congress.

To remedy this, the senators called on the White House “to issue regulations as soon as possible confirming that U.S. participation in 5G standards-setting is not restricted by export control regulations.” And according to a May 6 article by Reuters, the Commerce Department is currently figuring out how exactly to do just that. Commerce, however, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Nicol Turner Lee, a Brookings fellow specializing in Internet governance issues, told the panel while it was Europe that set the standards for 3G communications technologies, the US learned from losing that battle and so “stepped up” to lead the world in developing the technologies and standards for 4G LTE communication. US leadership on 4G in turn allowed it dominate the information revolution that underpins today’s “digital sharing economy,” enabling tech giants Google and disruptive firms such as Uber.

But the US now risks losing the 5G race to China, she argued, which will be at the heart of the next technological revolution. Mobile 5G cellular networks will provide the high speed and low latency (the time between data being broadcast and received by a user) communications capabilities required by the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI, both technologies hotly pursued by the US the Chinese militaries alike.

In her paper, “Navigating the U.S.-China 5G Competition,” Turner Lee explained:

“The United States and China are in a race to deploy fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks, and the country that dominates will lead in standard-setting, patents, and the global supply chain. While some analysts suggest that the Chinese government appears to be on a sprint to achieve nationwide 5G, U.S. government leaders and the private sector have been slowed by local and federal bureaucracies, restrictive and outdated regulations, and scarcity of available commercial spectrum.”

The “current national security concerns of Huawei and ZTE, which are integral to the global supply chain for 5G equipment and software” not only are hindering the ability of US tech firms to play a leading role in international standard setting bodies, she said, but also cramping their ability to cooperate with firms in allied nations — leading to US market isolation.

“To date, only five other partners have followed the U.S. lead in banning Huawei equipment in their communications infrastructures: Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand.25 Other U.S. allies, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K., are moving forward with their deployments with some restrictions,” Turner Lee wrote.

Key to China’s success in development of 5G networks has been the use of low- and mid-band radio frequency (RF) spectrum, according to experts, that for reasons of domestic regulation the US has been unable to match.

Meanwhile, the US has been “spectrum stuck” — unable to move rapidly to figure out how different RF user communities — including military and commercial satellite operators and US military radar systems — can share the limited resources.

Low-band spectrum, which includes the 600 megahertz (MHz), 800 MHz, and 900 MHZ bands, can cover longer distances and penetrate through walls of buildings. Mid-band spectrum is in the 2.0 gighertz (GHz) 6 GHz range, works at a higher speed and in some instances provides higher fidelity.

Indeed, the mid-band includes portions of the L-band spectrum, in the 1 GHz to 2 GHz range, at the heart of DoD’s battle with the Federal Communications Commission over Ligado. L-band signals, used by GPS, are less likely to be degraded by clouds, fog and rain and can pass through heavy foliage.

DoD, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation — and a wide range of private sector companies ranging from satellite operators to truckers — are convinced that Ligado’s planned network will jam GPS receivers.They are supported by a number of powerful members of Congress, including Inhofe and SASC Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed, as well as the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, together with 20 other members representing both political parties, weighed in last Thursday in a letter to the FCC Commissioners questioning the Ligado decision and expressing concern:

“Section 1698 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prevents the commission from approving commercial terrestrial operations in these bands until 90 days after the commission resolves concerns of widespread harmful interference by such operations to covered GPS devices. We are concerned that your approval of any mitigation efforts not rigorously tested and approved by national security technical experts may be inconsistent with the legislative direction to resolve concerns prior to permitting commercial terrestrial operations. We urge the commission to reconsider and impose additional mitigation steps to address the concerns of these users.”

HASC intends to hold a classified hearing to focus on the issue, including both DoD and the FCC.

However, the Trump administration is divided on the worthiness of Ligado’s plan — with the spat pitting Esper and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao against Pompeo, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, and Attorney General William Barr.

Kudlow, Pompeo and Barr, who all are close Trump political allies, have praised the FCC’s decision to approve Ligado’s network — along with many in the terrestrial wireless industry — as a move towards helping the US gain primary over China in the 5G race. And the need for the US to move out quickly to establish 5G networks figures prominently in Ligado’s various FCC filings.

In a marathon SASC hearing last Wednesday, DoD CIO Dana Deasy and Research and Engineering head Mike Griffin strongly pushed back against that assessment.

Griffin told the SASC that “5G is about capacity, latency, and scale. The Ligado proposal has absolutely nothing to do with latency and scale, and its capacity is on the order of three-and-a-half percent of the total spectrum capacity. Ligado’s existence, plus or minus, makes absolutely no difference to the involvement of the US in the so-called 5G race,” he said bluntly.

Deasy chimed in to back up Griffin, telling the SASC that “Ligado does not provide a 5G solution.” He explained that “the band in which Ligado operates is not even part of the FCC’s 5G FAST Plan, which is the commission’s blueprint for advancing US interest in 5G. The non-continuous bands that Ligado could bring the market are both fragmented and impaired.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last April approved the FAST Plan — for “Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology — to free up some designated low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrum now assigned to other uses use by 5G networks, as well as some spectrum currently unlicensed. That effort, however, has been complicated by squabbling among various operator communities.

Deasy stressed that DoD “clearly recognizes the huge value of 5G not only for commercial use, but across the US military as well.” And for that reason, he said, DoD not only has a plethora of 5G projects underway, but also has launched a pilot project on how best to share mid-band spectrum being used by DoD radar systems with commercial 5G networks. DoD is partnering on the pilot with the National Spectrum Consortium, he said, which involves government, industry and academia.

“The geopolitical battle is standard setting,” Turner Lee summed up during the Brookings’ webinar. “We need some coherency around what we’re actually doing on the public policy front, and we need some more technical coordination … so we could at least be at the stage where we’re still on the field, versus sitting on the sidelines trying to figure out how to catch up.”
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[*] posted on 12-5-2020 at 05:25 PM

What If the Pentagon Skipped 5G?


MAY 11, 2020


The answer to the headaches and security risks of next-generation mobile communications just might be a technological leap past them.

It’s round one of a WWE-equivalent policy fight, and the Federal Communications Commission has beat the Pentagon. Against DoD objections, the FCC approved a license modification for Ligado Networks to establish a new 5G communications service last month. And while some Trump administration senior officials hailed this as a boon to U.S. firms vying to build the world’s 5G networks, others rightly argue that it imperils national security.

This may come as some surprise. After all, the White House and Pentagon have loudly warned allies in recent years that information passing through 5G networking gear made by Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, might be forwarded to Beijing’s intelligence agencies. (Some, like Britain, have judged that a risk worth taking, at least for the “non-sensitive” parts of the country’s next-generation networks.) Would it not make sense to encourage U.S. prowess in this key new technology?

But, in fact, Ligado’s application was opposed by the Defense Secretary, the Air Force, a host of other federal departments, bipartisan senior members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and parts of private industry to boot. The Pentagon is boldly attempting to have the decision reversed.

Defense leaders want 5G as much as anyone. But they also want to keep certain radio frequencies clear of interference as the new super-high-speed networks come on line. Ligado’s victory gives it the right to transmit data in the L band — 1 to 2 GHz — at frequencies that could interfere with the Global Positioning System, harming millions of civilian and military receivers that are crucial to everything from grocery delivery to airline flights to dropping bombs to monitoring the globe for enemy missile launches.

For months, the Pentagon has been testing ways to share its mid-band 5G spectrum with commercial industry. Ligado declined to wait, and its impatience could imperil a technology with near-incalculable benefits.

Still, the company deserves some credit. It has lit a fire under the service chiefs to accelerate their collaboration with America’s 5G telecom firms. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has said, “There may be some ways to parcel and share that spectrum, but we cannot leave it.”

The solution — next-gen networking without Huawei and without undermining GPS — may lie in yet another nascent technology. O-RAN, a software-driven network protocol that promises even faster and more secure mobile communications, is attracting private and Congressional interest. But if the Pentagon wants to hasten O-RAN’s arrival, and head off disruption, it needs to act, and fast.
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[*] posted on 20-5-2020 at 03:45 PM

Winning The Spectrum: Pentagon Unveils New Strategy


on May 19, 2020 at 4:01 AM

The Electromagnetic Spectrum is the key to waging electronic warfare, and EW is key to waging modern war. An enemy who can jam communications or GPS, mislead you (spoofing is the term of art) and stop your weapons from functioning (cyber attacks using radio waves). The US largely abandoned EW after the Cold War ended. Then the Russians made it very clear in their war against Ukraine just how effective EW could be and senior folks in the US military grew uneasy. They and Congress realized how much we had made ourselves vulnerable and the Hill ordered creation of a group to devise a strategy to restore American EW eminence. Bryan Clark and Tim Walton of the Hudson Institute preview the new strategy below — only at Breaking D Read on! The Editor.

The electromagnetic spectrum is getting more popular and crowded every day. As Breaking D readers know, the DoD and FCC are battling over frequencies adjacent to those used by GPS, which the telecommunication company Ligado wants to use for its satellite-based 5G network. DoD worries that Ligado’s transmissions will drown out the relatively weak signals that reach Earth from GPS satellites.

Ligado fired what is only the first of what will be many salvos in the 5G spectrum battle. To achieve 5G’s promised low latency and broadband speed telecommunication companies require wider swaths of spectrum compared to 4G–some of which they don’t control. With high-frequency millimeter wave 5G towers only able to reach a few city blocks, telecom providers like Ligado are pursuing mid and low-band spectrum below 6 Ghz that enables greater coverage–but also puts them in conflict with FAA and military radars, radios, and GPS.

The clamor for 5G spectrum comes as DoD is itself fielding a collection of new networks to support its concept of Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2. The Army Integrated Tactical Network, Air Force Air Battle Management System, and Navy Integrated Fire Control combine existing datalinks and radios with emerging communications systems to connect all U.S. forces across a theater, placing new demands on spectrum.

But the EM spectrum is also a global common like the air or sea. To prevent U.S. forces from operating effectively, the Chinese and Russian militaries spent the last 20 years modernizing their electronic warfare equipment, training new EW operators and technicians, and placing EW forces in every unit or formation. During the same period, DoD rested on its Cold War laurels and failed to invest in EW systems or training.

DoD strategies developed in 2013 and 2017 addressed the growing challenges of managing and controlling the EM spectrum by directing services to develop better versions of current capabilities and concepts but failed to significantly close the gaps between the U.S. and adversary militaries. Congress, increasingly worried, mandated that DoD stand up an EM Spectrum Operations Cross-Functional Team and create a new strategy. That is nearing completion and may be DoD’s last opportunity to gain an enduring advantage in the EM spectrum.

Instead of incrementally improving existing EM systems and tactics in a doomed effort to solve capability shortfalls, the new EM Spectrum Superiority Strategy will emphasize how to undermine the strengths and exploit the weaknesses of adversaries in the EM spectrum. The strategies’ initiatives will be targeted at fundamental asymmetries between U.S. and opposing militaries that can provide DoD leverage.

A change in approach is desperately needed. The U.S. military didn’t fall behind in EW and EM Spectrum Operations due to a lack of funding, as spending for both rose steadily since 2015, but because the additional dollars were not spent implementing a coherent strategy. Funding instead upgraded legacy systems to fill various capability gaps, not all of which were high priorities. Under today’s plans, DoD will take decades to catch great power adversaries enjoying “home team” advantages and the luxury of focusing on only one potential opponent. Moreover, post-pandemic budget constraints will likely prevent increasing funding to plug capability gaps faster.

The key asymmetry between the U.S. and opposing great power militaries is the simple facft that Chinese and Russian are close to likely areas of conflict. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Russian Armed Forces can place EW and sensor systems on their own territory or in nearby sea or airspace where they can rely on reliable and difficult-to-jam wired or line-of-sight EM communications. Leveraging their understanding of the environment, Chinese and Russian forces can employ passive, multistatic, and low-frequency EM sensors and pre-architected systems of systems and tactics to find and attack U.S. forces.

The U.S. military must span the world. This requires a more expeditionary force and adaptable C2 process compared to the Chinese or Russians, and which can accommodate more contested communications, changing force packages, and the variety of local conditions. When communications are lost, junior leaders of U.S. forces would employ mission command, exploiting their initiative and judgement to improvise a course of action that follows the commander’s intent.

Giving The Enemy Something To Worry About

The PLA’s reliance on pre-planned, static systems of systems and tactics could be a liability against highly dynamic and unpredictable U.S. spectrum operations. The EM Spectrum Superiority Strategy should exploit this opportunity by adopting new operational concepts that emphasize maneuver and complexity.

A maneuver-centric approach doesn’t require across-the-board improvements to U.S. EM spectrum systems. To create complexity for opponents U.S. forces need capabilities for dynamic and automated spectrum sharing with commercial or military users guided by electronic support sensors and electromagnetic battle management, or EMBM, systems. To protect themselves from enemy attack, U.S. forces would rely on passive or multistatic sensing, complemented by LPI/LPD communications and electronic countermeasures. And U.S. electronic attacks would need the agility afforded by AI-enabled cognitive jammers that use photonics to move across wide ranges of spectrum.

The ability of cognitive jammers or EMBM systems to understand the EM environment will depend on their access to information on threat, friendly, and civilian EM spectrum systems. Today, data and analysis from the Intelligence Community is slow to reach operators and slower still to be programmed into EW equipment. DoD will need to establish new frameworks for EM spectrum information sharing and build on its recent success in accelerating the reprogramming process by incorporating AI to a greater degree in deployed EW and EMBM systems.

Capabilities for complex and unpredictable EM operations will be difficult to define for today’s top-down requirements process, which seeks a point solution for a particular application and situation. DoD will need to identify potential new EM capabilities through comprehensive assessments of their mission impact in a variety scenarios using modeling and simulation or experimentation and mature them through new processes like the DoD Adaptive Acquisition Framework.

The most challenging element of a new strategy will be preparing EW and EM spectrum operators for maneuver warfare. DoD’s current ranges are unable to provide realistic EM operating environments for experimentation or training due to a lack of modern threat systems and concerns that adversaries can monitor U.S. EM emissions during live, open-air events. Rather than focusing on expensive range upgrades, DoD should shift its emphasis to virtual and constructive events, which would enable concept development, tactics innovation, and training against the most challenging threats at all security levels.

The urgency to change

DoD cannot continue pursuing EMS superiority through incremental, evolutionary improvements. This approach is too unfocused, will take too long to reach fruition, is potentially unaffordable, and cedes the initiative to America’s adversaries. DoD should move in a new direction and focus EM capability development on implementing concepts for maneuver warfare that create adaptability for U.S. forces and complexity for adversaries.

If the DoD does not mount a new more strategic and proactive approach to fighting in the EM spectrum, adversaries could be emboldened to continue their efforts to gain territory and influence at the expense of U.S. allies and partners. Demonstrating the ability to survive and fight in a contested and congested EM spectrum could help U.S. forces slow Chinese and Russian activities and give them something to worry about for a change.

Bryan Clark is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Timothy Walton is a fellow at Hudson.
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[*] posted on 29-5-2020 at 10:17 PM

DoD, USAF Warfare Center to Build a 5G Network, Test Prototype Software at Nellis

(Source: US Department of Defense; issued May 28, 2020)

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center (USAFWC) at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada have teamed to build a fifth-generation (5G) cellular network on Nellis as part of DOD's development of 5G for both defense and civilian uses.

''The Defense Department recognizes 5G technology is vital to maintaining America's military and economic advantages,'' said Dr. Joseph Evans, DOD technical director for 5G and the lead for the department's 5G development effort. ''We expect to start construction on the network at Nellis in July and have it fully operational in January of next year.''

Only users taking part in the testing will have access to the private network. The network will feature relocatable cell towers that can be set up and taken down in less than an hour. Testing will involve mobile operations centers where team members will use the network while on the move.

The Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP), an industry consortium, will seek commercial software prototypes through a Prototype Other Transactional Authority (OTA) process it will manage. IWRP member companies may provide prototype proposals. Prototypes will focus on two areas: Applications and Services for Survivable Command and Control (C2) and Wireless Network Enhancements.

Applications and Services for Survivable C2 prototypes will build or revise C2 software used at Air and Wing Operations Centers to support distributed planning and mission-execution functions. These applications involve architectures that enable C2 operations under a variety of 5G network conditions. They may incorporate human-machine interfaces, which go beyond simple graphic-user interfaces and may include audio, gestures, augmented reality devices and haptics that stimulate touch and motion.

Network Enhancement prototypes will build and test novel 5G features including network slicing to allow network operators to dedicate portions of their networks to specific uses and software-defined networking, which makes network control possible using software applications. This prototype will also test interoperability with legacy and future generations of cellular and mobile networking.

Testing at Nellis will start in January 2021 and continue in three 12-month phases.

This test builds upon DOD's previously announced 5G communications technology prototyping and experimentation at Hill AFB, Utah; Joint Base Louis-McChord, Washington; Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia; and Naval Base San Diego, California.

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[*] posted on 30-5-2020 at 02:03 PM

Pentagon to open Nellis Air Force Base for 5G testing

Nathan Strout

9 hours ago

Nellis Air Force Base will be the fifth military base opened up for 5G testing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

Just as the Department of Defense wraps up solicitations for 5G testing at four military bases, the Pentagon announced it will open up a fifth site for 5G development: Nellis Air Force Base.

Together, the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering will build a 5G cellular network for experimentation.

“The Defense Department recognizes 5G technology is vital to maintaining America’s military and economic advantages,” said Joseph Evans, DOD technical director for 5G and the lead for the department’s 5G development effort. “We expect to start construction on the network at Nellis in July and have it fully operational in January of next year.”

The private network will only be available for testing.

The base will be used for mobile testing, with relocatable cell towers that can be set up and removed in less than an hour. Testing at Nellis will start in January and continue in three 12-month phases. The department is seeking commercial software prototypes for testing on the network through the Information Warfare Research Projects using an Other Transactional Authority.

Prototypes must fall into two areas: applications and services for survivable command and control and wireless network enhancements. For survivable C2, the department wants to build or revise software that supports distributed planning and mission execution functions under 5G architectures. Applications can use audio, gestures, augmented reality devices and haptics for interfacing with the software. For network enhancements, the department is seeking novel 5G applications such as network slicing, which allows operators to dedicate portions of their networks for specific uses, and software-defined networking.

The decisions to open up testing at Nellis comes as the National Spectrum Consortium wraps up its solicitation at four other military bases.

The consortium began issuing solicitations for prototypes in March as DOD pushed to test 5G enabled augmented reality and virtual reality at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, dynamic spectrum sharing at Hill Air Force Base, and smart warehouses at Marine Corps Logistics Base and Naval Base San Diego.

The final solicitation closed May 29.

“The responses have been overwhelming,” said Randy Clark, vice chair of the National Spectrum Consortium. “Last year (the consortium) grew about 35 percent on the announcement or report that Congress would be releasing funds for 5G research. So far this year in 2020, our membership continues to grow. I think 25 percent in the first quarter.”

Responses have been evenly spread across all four solicitations so far, with about 40 responses each, Clark said. Contracts could be awarded in 45-60 days, he added, based on prior experience.

“The importance the government is putting on accelerating this research and engineering for national security reasons is paramount to ensuring the U.S. continues its global leadership in the 5G ecosystem,” said Clark.
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[*] posted on 22-7-2020 at 01:55 PM

To be competitive in 5G, the US must play offense, not defense

Joel Thayer , Harold Feld , and Daniel Hoffman

10 hours ago

An Internet of Things enabled by 5G will revolutionize everything from precision agriculture to self-driving cars, according to the authors of this commentary. (jamesteohart/Getty Images)

The Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation are far from the first to try to upend an independent agency’s proceeding. However, these executive agencies have been far more aggressive than normal in that pursuit in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s April 20 Ligado decision. This dispute significantly compromises the United States’ leadership in global markets — by both undermining domestic initiatives and by undercutting our policy positions internationally.

The recent dispute concerning Ligado pits the DoD and DOT on one side, and the Federal Communications Commission, the State Department and Attorney General Bill Barr on the other. This dispute involves the FCC’s unanimous decision to grant new wireless entrant Ligado’s request to modify its licenses to provide a national, low-power 5G network for Internet of Things services.

The Ligado decision took nearly two decades, all told. It is not overstating to say that what should be a straightforward engineering decision has devolved into a watershed moment that, if Congress doesn’t act, may prevent the U.S. from deploying 5G at a rate greater or equal to China or other international sovereigns. Worse, it will deprive Americans of competition, wireless innovation and related economic growth for years to come.

IoT enabled by 5G will revolutionize everything from precision agriculture to self-driving cars. By focusing exclusively on IoT, Ligado can expedite the deployment of this technology while traditional wireless carriers focus on building out consumer-oriented 5G networks. This will accelerate deployment of 5G networks and introduce competition into the nascent IoT market. This is why Barr (whose Antitrust Division concentrates on competition) and the State Department (which wants to see the U.S. retain wireless leadership in global markets) have supported the FCC’s decision.

Ostensibly, the DoD and DOT say that Ligado will interfere with sensitive GPS operations. But its rationale does not survive even casual scrutiny. In recent weeks, internal emails from the DoD have surfaced showing that at least some of the DoD’s own spectrum experts categorically agreed with the FCC that Ligado posed no threat, but were overruled by their superiors.

The real issue is that the DoD and DOT are the largest and most powerful federal spectrum users. Any growth in 5G will require them to make further adjustments. Oddly, neither agency operates near Ligado’s spectrum, and yet they seek to impede Ligado’s ability to innovate in it. Put simply, Ligdao is just the unlucky party caught in the middle of their broader interagency spectrum fight.

Congress made the FCC an independent, expert agency to prevent precisely this kind of situation. One of the most important reasons the FCC even exists is to set uniform rules for commercial wireless networks so that equipment can interoperate and companies can innovate, which ensures consumers ultimately reap the benefits of their products.

Unfortunately, the Senate and House Armed Services committees intend to end run the agency by including provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that, in effect, prevent stakeholders that work with the Defense Department — either directly or indirectly — from using Ligado’s network, which includes just about every major company in America.

The U.S. squabbling with itself only yields an uncontested “win” for China. Our competitors are coordinated and not stumbling over themselves on petty spectrum disputes. They are certainly not waiting for the United States government to get its act together.

To the contrary, as the House Appropriations Committee observed in its report on the FCC’s budget: “The U.S. is falling behind other countries in the allocation of [5G] spectrum.” Chinese-owned companies Huawei and ZTE have already bought up significant wireless infrastructure for its 5G networks across the globe and have begun deploying IoT services in the same or similar bands the FCC authorized for Ligado. If that happens, it’s China that sets the terms for 5G, which adversely affects our nation’s security given China’s penchant for international data aggregation.

Upending the FCC would hand China a nearly insurmountable advantage in the race to 5G. Also, if Congress sides with the DoD and DOT instead of observing the FCC’s 17-year-long rigorous testing and analysis, which included that of the DOT’s and the Defense Department’s own spectrum experts, then the FCC will be effectively paralyzed going forward. Congress needs to put a stop to these games before they do permanent damage and let the FCC do its job.

Joel Thayer focuses his practice on telecommunications, regulatory and transaction matters, as well as privacy and cybersecurity issues. Harold Feld has worked in telecommunications law for more than 20 years. He is senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a 501(c) that advocates for policies to expand broadband access. Public Knowledge has provided support for Ligado several times in the FCC proceeding. Ligado sponsors its IP3 award at the $5,000 level. Daniel Hoffman worked in the CIA, where he was a three-time station chief and a senior executive clandestine services officer. He has been a Fox News contributor since May 2018.
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[*] posted on 22-7-2020 at 05:08 PM

New CEO Wants Lockheed to Become a 5G Player


JULY 21, 2020

Joint Base San Antonio is one of 12 select installations where the department will experiment and test fifth-generation, or 5G, communications technology.

And Jim Taiclet wants the government to underwrite its new direction.

Lockheed Martin’s new CEO wants to help build a 5G network that the Pentagon can use to connect all its weapons and retain military advantage over China.

Jim Taiclet didn’t unveil many details, but the former telecom executive said on Tuesday that he wants the firm to adopt “tech industry practices and maybe some new partnerships in technologies,” a shift for a company whose revenues largely turn on weapon sales.

“I’ve got an idea called that we’re going to try to figure out how to create and really bring that technology…into our space and drive performance at this company as a result of that,” Taiclet said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Taiclet, who spent most of the past two decades as CEO of American Tower, which specializes in wireless communications infrastructure, said the Pentagon needs to incentivize companies to invest in areas like 5G by reimbursing firms for their research and development.

“If we can get our customers convinced that certain types of independent research and development need to be compensated for in perhaps new ways by the government so that companies like ours and others can take risks and we can bring in partners that are willing to take risk, at least knowing they may have a path to compensation at the end of the day, then we’re going to be able to accelerate our growth,” he said.

“It’s going to require cooperation with our customer and their sort of authorizing us to try some of these things,” Taiclet added. “Because no one is going to take any risk on the defense industrial base by implementing these technologies in a different way if they’re not sure they’re going to get paid for it.

Taiclet’s selection to succeed former CEO Marillyn Hewson was viewed by some as a desire to change the way the company operates and adopt more commercial business practices.

The creation of a 5G military network has been a top priority of Pentagon leaders. It is experimenting with the technology at military bases across the country.

“[W]e see an opportunity for 5G technologies to bring greater connectivity, faster and more reliable networks, and new data capabilities to support our customers’ multi-domain and autonomous operations on 21st century battlefields,” John Torrisi, a Lockheed Martin spokesman, said in an email. “In partnership with our customers, we believe Lockheed Martin is uniquely positioned, leveraging commercial best practices and the expertise of our leadership, to bring 5G connectivity and capabilities to the defense industry rapidly and affordably. We look forward to working with the U.S. government to inform, fund and execute this vision.”
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[*] posted on 26-7-2020 at 02:41 PM

Justice Official Explains Why Law Enforcement is Worried about 5G


JULY 24, 2020


As the government works to deploy next generation networking technology, policy discussions highlight rifts between agency stakeholders.

The advent of fifth generation networking architecture is going to make it a lot harder for law enforcement to serve and process wiretapping warrants, a senior Justice official said, also expressing concern about the main U.S. policy approach for competing with China in the space.

Beyond faster connections with reduced latency, 5G is expected to greatly enable machine to machine communication, making for a more distributed system of connectivity. This promises huge potential for economic advancement, but also to exacerbate challenges the FBI and other law enforcement entities experience trying to overcome encrypted communication between devices.

“The big challenge as 5G gets increasingly deployed across the country,” said Associate Deputy Attorney General Sujit Raman, is “let’s say you serve a search warrant or a wiretap order. Where physically is that going to happen? Because right now, you just send the wiretap order to Verizon or T-Mobile or whoever. They’ve got a centralized server, they serve it, they create an interface and they produce the data. If there isn’t that centralized architecture going forward, it’s an engineering question, how do you actually make that happen?”

Raman said his colleagues in the investigative agencies are working with all the major U.S. telecommunications companies to answer that question.

He spoke at an event the Internet Governance Forum hosted Wednesday which also featured Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.

On Thursday, the FCC will begin an auction of prized mid-band spectrum as part of its 5G Fast initiative.

Speed is an obvious consideration in the race to 5G, but officials are also wary of how the technology could be exploited by cyber criminals, including nation-state actors. China, in particular, could potentially disrupt critical infrastructure working through telecommunications giant Huawei or other entities within the supply chain, they say. But Krebs said compromises to confidentiality are not as much of a concern since they can be mitigated with the use of encryption.

“When you think about [5G] from the cybersecurity side, whether it’s a confidentiality attack, an integrity attack, an availability attack, it’s less on the confidentiality side—you can encrypt data for those purposes to protect against those attacks,” he said. “For us it’s more on the availability side. Is the signal there, when you need it, is it performing as you need it.”

For this reason, Krebs, Pai and others in government and the private sector have expressed support for developing open-interface standards for 5G, so that various components of the network can work together, instead of all having to be supplied by a single vendor, such as Huawei.

“For us it’s been a significant focus on how you get trusted vendors into the supply chain, how you get a vibrant global ecosystem that will support a diversity of vendors that again, are trusted,” Krebs said.

Legislation supporting the effort, which would create a fund for research and development for the open architecture, was included in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act via the Intelligence Authorization Act.

But Raman, like Attorney General William Barr, is concerned about the viability of that approach, as Huawei and China push forward in securing global market share for 5G technology.

“Where I sit, one of the really tough questions here is timing,” he said. “One of the challenges [with the interoperability concept] is what is the time frame here? Because obviously Huawei is …not focused on interoperability. They’re out there trying to sell their products today and they’re very aggressive about it.”
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[*] posted on 29-7-2020 at 05:00 PM

5G: COVID Gives US A 2nd Chance Vs. Huawei

Global recession has slowed down 5G rollouts, and Chinese overreach has alienated customers, a new CNAS study says – but the US also needs a new strategy that offers an alternative to Huawei.


on July 28, 2020 at 2:19 PM

Huawei HQ in Shenzhen, China

WASHINGTON: Britain’s decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network marks a potential tipping point in the global battle over 5G, say the authors of a new study from the Center for a New American Security. But the US needs to seize the moment and offer an alternative to the Chinese giant, not just warn countries against security threats from Beijing, say CNAS co-authors Martijn Rasser and Ainikki Riikonen, both veterans of the Pentagon.

America can’t create a corporate “national champion” to compete with Huawei head to head, they say, but it doesn’t need to. The US can undercut Huawei’s emerging monopoly by advancing open, modular standards that let networks plug-and-play 5G equipment from any manufacturer, from any nation, and still have it work as a single compatible system.

“One of the big advantages of promoting open architecture as the best way forward for 5G is that it’s a proactive and affirmative approach to the 5G dilemma, as opposed to the Trump administration’s emphasis on shutting out Huawei,” Rasser and Riikonen wrote me in an email after I asked about their study. “This approach does not push American vendors as a replacement to vendors from China. Rather, it would encourage innovation and new entrants to the market. Europe in particular would benefit because this alternative approach to 5G could be a boon for its fledgling tech sector.”

COVID-19 and China’s own missteps have given the US another chance on 5G. The global recession has hammered budgets and slowed 5G rollouts around the world, so countries and companies are no longer under as much pressure to pick a cheap and easy option that’s available right now, which usually means Huawei. And Chinese assertiveness, even aggression, against its neighbors from India to Vietnam to Japan has made nations leery of buying Chinese firmware, riddled as it is with backdoors that Chinese spy agencies may know intimately.

In particular, the UK’s reversal on Huawei – which it had previously been willing to allow in parts of its 5G network – is a telling victory, likely to be replicated in other countries. But the warn-and-exhort strategy that got the US this far is not enough.

“The UK decision is indicative of a broader shift away from China,” Rasser and Riikonen said. “France is following suit with a de facto ban. This will put greater pressure on Germany and Canada, the two major allies yet to announce a decision, to also move toward excluding Huawei.”

“While that’s good news, it doesn’t resolve the broader problem that 5G supply chains are very limited,” they went on. “Wireless infrastructure based on open interfaces should result in greater vendor diversity where software companies from around the world can participate.”

Today, 5G equipment from different vendors often follows different technical standards and is not compatible, so it’s much easier to buy everything your network needs from one company. Three Western companies – Nokia in Finland, Ericsson in Sweden, and Samsung in South Korea – can largely fill that bill, but Huawei is much bigger and enjoys billions in subsidies, allowing it to underbid its rivals.

But what if a telecommunications company could buy 5G equipment wherever it liked – a router from this company, a base station from this one, network management software from a third – and have it all work together? To do that, you need all the different companies to agree how all their different components connect to each other. Each company can still offer its proprietary tech, but the “interfaces” between two different devices must be standardized. This philosophy, called modular open architecture, is increasingly popular in other areas of IT and even defense procurement.

5G is another area ripe for open architecture, Rasser and Riikonen told me. “The appeal of a modular approach is that the technology is proven and that there is broad interest among telecommunication operators and tech companies internationally in it,” they said. “What’s missing is clear signals that this is the direction the industry is headed. That’s why Nokia and Ericsson in particular are hesitant to invest time and resources.”

The US government could do a lot to advance open standards – an area where China has recently stolen a lead. That would undercut Huawei’s position, without investing the vast amounts required to subsidize a national champion to fight the Chinese giant head-on.

“Heavy-handed industrial policy, such as ‘picking a winner’, is not necessary,” Rasser and Riikonen said. “What is needed is signaling from national level governments to nudge the industry toward widespread adoption and deployment.”

You can read the full report, Open Future: The Way Forward On 5G, at the CNAS website.
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[*] posted on 11-8-2020 at 01:17 PM

Pentagon clears 100 MHz of spectrum for 5G development

Nathan Strout

3 hours ago

The White House and Department of Defense established America’s Mid-Band Initiative Teams (AMBIT) to free up spectrum for 5G development quickly back in April. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

The Pentagon has cleared 100 megahertz (MHz) of contiguous mid-band spectrum to be used for commercial 5G following a 15-week review, determining that they can share that bandwidth while minimizing impact on military radars.

While that 3450-3550 MHz mid-band spectrum is highly desired by commercial 5G developers, it’s been historically used by the military for critical radar operations for air defense, missile and gunfire control, counter-mortar, bomb scoring, battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and range safety.

But now, leaders from the Department of Defense say the Pentagon can continue using the spectrum for those purposes while making it available for commercial development. DoD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy said the department will move toward sharing most of that spectrum without limits while setting up a Spectrum Relocation Fund Transition Plan to minimize risks.

“DoD is proud of the success of the [America’s Mid-Band Initiative Teams (AMBIT)] and is committed to working closely with industry after the FCC auction to ensure timely access to the band while protecting national security,” Deasy told reporters Aug. 10.

The White House and Department of Defense established AMBIT to free up spectrum for 5G development quickly back in April. Over a 15-week period, the working group was able to bring together 180 subject matter experts, and ultimately were able to identify 100 MHZ of spectrum used by the military that could be safely shared with commercial 5G efforts.The decision expands the amount of connected mid-band spectrum open for 5G development to 530 MHz.

The Federal Communications Commission will auction off the spectrum. One government official said action was expected by the end of this fiscal year.
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[*] posted on 11-8-2020 at 01:43 PM

America’s 5G Capabilities Are About to Get a Big Boost

The Defense Department is opening large areas of mid-band spectrum to help the United States compete with China in 5G. But is it too little, too late?


The Pentagon will share the use of a big chunk of electromagnetic frequencies in a bid to help U.S. manufacturers bring commercial 5G products to market faster than their Chinese competitors, DoD and White House officials announced Monday.

The military’s release of the frequencies between 3.4 and 3.5 GHz is something like a giveaway of thousands of miles of prime real estate, and follows a similar decision to free up a nearby chunk of frequencies. It is the result of a 15-week effort by 180 experts working at “a record pace to develop a spectrum-sharing plan to support U.S. 5G leadership while protecting critical national security systems,” Defense Department CIO Dana Deasy said in a statement.

The right to share the frequencies with the military will likely be auctioned off, similar to the ongoing auction of Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, spectrum auction in the 3.55 to 3.65 Ghz band. That auction could fetch as much as $10 billion.

The Defense Department controls large portions of the mid-band spectrum in the 3 GHz to 6 GHZ range. It has been working with industry groups like the National Spectrum Consortium to better figure out ways to share that spectrum. And it’s been conducting experiments at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base on dynamic spectrum sharing — essentially, a scheme to allow non-military devices to use certain frequencies when the military isn’t doing so — which may make it possible to free up more spectrum in the future.

Randolph Clark, vice chairman of the National Spectrum Consortium industry group, described Monday’s announcement as important for the future of the U.S. telecom industry.

“With the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, they are heavy in mid-band. They have a competitive advantage in mid-band, now with the [CBRS] auction…that gives other carriers an opportunity to get at mid-band dominated by T-Mobile,”he said, adding that his consortium, “applauds the DOD for its innovation in finding additional mid-band spectrum to stay in alignment with the National Broadband” plan.

Opening up more areas in that mid-band range, particularly between 3and 6 GHz, is key to helping U.S. companies persuade global customers to pick them over Chinese options like Huawei.

Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and current head of the Defense Innovation Board, said earlier this year that the U.S. was far behind China in 5G in large part because of the way the United States has managed spectrum.

“With respect to 5G, it’s clear that we dropped the ball,” Schmidt said at the Defense One Tech Summit in June.

He said telecommunications companies prize frequencies in the 3-to-6 GHz range because they allow longer ranges and better penetration of signals through walls. While the United States was slow to start figuring out how the Defense Department could share more mid-band spectrum with industry, China essentially gave the equivalent frequencies to major Chinese telecommunications companies without an auction.

“They have been given a head start, which will give them on the order of 100 million 5G users within the year,” said Schmidt. “The number of 5G users here in America is vanishingly small… So we really did cede leadership to China…At the same time, China funded Huawei to aggressively provide new [multiple in, multiple out] antenna technology to be better than their competitors…So there’s evidence that China was both smarter with the spectrum [and] smarter with respect to funding Huawei. They have a different industrial policy than we do to build these and that’s the conundrum that the U.S. finds itself in.”
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[*] posted on 14-8-2020 at 02:30 PM

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, back row center, speaks during a video conference of NATO Defense Minister at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. FRANCOIS LENOIR, POOL / VIA AP

NATO Must Move Out Smartly on 5G

Beyond the security concerns, next-gen wireless technology promises a battlefield revolution.


Much attention is focused, and appropriately so, on the security risks associated with 5G – particularly those technologies produced in China. But next-generation wireless technologies promise a revolution in military operations, one that will change everything from training to logistics to the tactical, operational, and strategic dimensions of warfare. As the institution responsible for enabling effective joint and combined operations by its member states, NATO must help lead the integration of 5G into the force structures and operations of the alliance and among allied armed forces.

Next-gen wireless communications are a game changer because lower network latency and leap in throughput speeds translates into massive real-time data sharing, and because low power consumption will shrink the size and weight of the electronic systems that burden combat aircraft, warships, and individual troops.

5G will bring to the battlefield new ways to share and integrate sensor data between operators, weapons, and platforms, including unmanned systems. It will enable forces to harness artificial intelligence and machine learning in ways never before seen on a battlefield: autonomous loading and off-loading of trucks, trains, planes and ships; enhanced situational awareness for soldiers in the foxhole and their most senior commanders; real-time targeting and retargeting; and, new military concepts of operations, such as the swarming of drones.

Imagine a very high-speed, low-latency secure wireless bubble across a battlefield or all of Europe. Built correctly, this would be the digital backbone of a better NATO defense and deterrence posture.

But along with the opportunities, 5G poses profound challenges for the alliance. If left uncoordinated, allies risk deploying 5G technologies that strip their forces of interoperability and render them vulnerable to penetration and compromise by our adversaries. NATO needs a 5G strategy to mitigate, if not eliminate, those risks and position allied forces on the technological high ground of the battlefields of today and tomorrow.

The Alliance needs to act now or risk being left in the 5G contrail of its competitors. NATO’s Secretary General should consider the following actions to catalyze the development of a robust alliance 5G strategy and deliver on the 2019 London Summit Declaration.

- Convene North Atlantic Council briefings on the military implications of 5G. It is imperative that alliance governments are fluent in the capacities of 5G and their implications for military force structures and operations. Such a briefing to a combined session of NATO and European Union ambassadors would foster collaboration between the two institutions, both of which can influence the development of 5G capacities in their member states.

- Task SACEUR to provide a military assessment of the risks and opportunities of 5G and define the requirements they generate for allied networks, platforms, weapons and operations. Both are effective means to prompt allies to give 5G priority and implement 5G standards and protocols necessary for C4ISR interoperability and security.

- Establish 5G as a priority focus of the NATO Cyber Center of Excellence in Estonia. This center, in cooperation with Allied Command Transformation, NATO’s driver of capability development, is an appropriate venue for the development of doctrine, operational concepts, and tactics leveraging the power of 5G.

Meanwhile, the Alliance’s command structure and the NATO Communications and Information Agency should launch a series of pilot projects to operationalize the military applications of 5G technologies. These could include:

• 5G-powered secure command and control: The alliance should explore how 5G can provide secure, interoperable command-and-control capabilities on the battlefield. An exercise could place 5G antennas (they are small: only 14 inches x 11 inches) on tanks or unmanned aerial vehicles to create a 5G bubble in which machines, devices, and sensors deployed on platforms and personnel are connected via high-bandwidth, low-latency secure data flow. (A similar test has already been conducted by the German Army.) NATO could do the same with a naval surface action group.

• 5G-enabled training: The alliance should lead the incorporation of 5G technology into military training. NATO’s Joint Force Training Center in Bydgoszcz, Poland and Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway, could host experiments featuring 5G to provide a mix of live, virtual, and synthetic simulations. The JFTC’s premier annual Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exploration, Experimentation, and Examination Exercise, or CWIX, draws more than 1,000 participants from more than 20 NATO and partner countries. This is an ideal venue through which to drive 5G capability into alliance training and exercises.

• Securing existing systems. Ripping and replacing 3G and 4G telecom equipment – not to mention Huawei equipment – is costly and time-consuming. NCIA should be tasked to identify and test technologies that can secure existing communications systems that for some are prohibitively expensive to replace. This would facilitate secure communications even as these allies stick to the lifespan of their current infrastructure as they prepare for 5G.

The race for 5G dominance is well underway. This is a technology that is complex and rapidly evolving. With it comes significant but manageable interoperability and security challenges. The ability of the Alliance to secure and hold the technological high ground in a battlespace increasingly dominated by data-intensive operations will be critical to mission success — and thus NATO’s very relevance.
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[*] posted on 15-8-2020 at 05:04 PM

Pentagon wins brief waiver from government’s Huawei ban

By: Joe Gould   11 hours ago

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord holds a press briefing to update media on acquisition, reform and innovation, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Aug. 26, 2019. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee)

WASHINGTON ― The Trump administration is granting the Pentagon a temporary waiver of government-wide ban on contractors using Huawei and other Chinese-made telecommunications equipment, according to a memo obtained by Defense News.

The move offers a weeks-long reprieve, until Sept. 30, for firms doing business with the Department of Defense. The firms are among those still reeling from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and who lobbied for more time to comply with new far-reaching regulations.

The original provision was to take effect Aug. 13. The administration had been finalizing regulations that would prohibit government contracting with companies whose supply chains contain products from five Chinese companies including Huawei, as mandated under of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

The administration, confronting China on trade and a host of issues, has deemed Huawei an espionage threat.

Citing U.S. national security interests, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe granted the Pentagon a temporary waiver to further assess a broader waiver request from DoD. The action came in a memo to Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.

The temporary waiver Lord sought was so DoD could continue to execute procurement actions that would, in part, equip and feed troops.

“You stated that DoD’s statutory requirement to provide for the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of out country is critically important to national security,” Ratcliffe said. “Therefore, the procurement of goods and services in support of DoD’s statutory mission is also in the national security interests of the United States.”

While considering the broader waiver, Ratcliffe asked Lord share more information about potential increased risks, mitigation measures and a plan to contract with alternatives to the banned Chinese companies.

Contractors had been confused over an interim acquisition rule, agencies cannot award new contracts, task orders or modify existing contracts to any vendor who doesn’t self-certify that they are not using products from Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei, the Federal News Network reported this week.

Ratcliffe’s memo is a win, albeit a temporary one, for defense contractors and trade associations representing them. They had hoped for a legislative fix in a new pandemic relief package ― but larger bipartisan talks had broken down.

The leaders of the National Defense Industrial Association and the Professional Services Council had called for the deadline for 889 implementation to move. They argued the focus should be on recovering from the fallout caused by the COVID-19 crisis. And citing the far-reaching implications of the government’s rules, NDIA said companies should get a yearlong extension.

In May, Lord told lawmakers that contractors needed more time to comply with the government-wide ban or risk throwing the defense industrial base into disarray.

“The thought that somebody in six or seven levels down in the supply chain could have one camera in a parking lot and that would invalidate one of our major primes being able to do business with us gives us a bit of pause,” Lord testified at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
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[*] posted on 9-9-2020 at 06:07 PM

Trump Directive A ‘Wakeup Call’ For 5G Satellite Cybersecurity

"Rather than imposing specific requirements, SPD-5 affords all government stakeholders a policy framework to implement prudent practices to enhance resilience, including specific efforts to work with the commercial space sector overall and promote information sharing. That’s an improvement from the status quo," Andrew D'Uva, US industry chair of the Space Force/NSA’s Commercial Space INFOSEC Working Group (CSIWG) says.


on September 08, 2020 at 5:18 PM

WASHINGTON: A new Trump Administration policy on space cybersecurity does not mandate any regulatory changes but does put pressure on commercial operators eyeing 5G communications to beef up their satellite networks against jamming and spoofing.

“It should be a wakeup call for those who haven’t really considered space cyber matters in detail,” said one industry expert heavily involved in government-industry consultations in crafting Space Policy Directive-5 (SPD-5), released by the White House on Friday.

DoD is rushing to integrate 5G communications at bases and to figure out how to exploit the coming space-based Internet for future all-domain operations. And while the Pentagon already requires that all contracted satellite operators encrypt their data links to ground stations using NSA-approved methods, it is eyeing how to expand its access to bandwidth by relying on commercial providers.

For example, SpaceX’s Starlink satellites is playing a big role the Air Force’s “on-ramp” demonstrations of its evolving Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the second of which was held last week.

“There are occasionally discussions of things that you can do relative to the Internet — direct connection from the Internet to a spacecraft is one of those practices and probably seems unwise. Because something is technically possible doesn’t mean that we should do it,” one senior administration official told reporters in a late Friday background briefing on SPD-5.

He added that “space is not separate from” the Internet, and that growing cybersecurity threats and the growing importance of space to critical infrastructure — with GPS in particular ever more integrated into many economic sectors — mean more prudence is necessary.

“We can do a better job of what things we do going on into the future. And we can try to be careful with the things that are out there now,” he said.

As Breaking D readers know, many in the traditional space community have been worried about the scramble by newer space operators — including SpaceX, as well as others such as OneWeb and Amazon — to catch the 5G wave and integrate their satellite operations into the Internet of Things (IoT). But not only the newbies are pursing 5G networking, since IoT connectivity is expected to explode over the next few years and satcom providers want to stay competitive vice their terrestrial wireless competition.

SPD-5 shines a focus on what is known as “positive control” of spacecraft and systems — meaning that they have ways to ensure that hackers do not take over their satellites. This is particularly important for those operators who are relying heavily on autonomous operational capabilities, where a person may not be monitoring satellite functions and movements 24/7.

“Space system owners and operators should develop and implement cybersecurity plans for their space systems that incorporate capabilities to ensure operators or automated control center systems can retain or recover positive control of space vehicles. These plans should also ensure the ability to verify the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of critical functions and the missions, services, and data they enable and provide,” the policy says.

It recommends that operators, at a minimum, should adopt “appropriate cybersecurity hygiene practices, physical security for automated information systems, and intrusion detection methodologies for system elements such as information systems, antennas, terminals, receivers, routers, associated local and wide area networks, and power supplies.”

SPD-5’s does not fill regulatory gaps left by Department of Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission in recent rule revisions on remote sensing and communications satellites that worry many in industry. Nonetheless, it has been welcomed as top-level support for public-private efforts to ensure better satellite cybersecurity.

“I applaud the Presidential-level focus and leadership recognizing the importance of establishing and promulgating risk- based space cybersecurity principles aligned to address the expected threats to the unique operational environment of space,” Andrew D’Uva, president of Providence Access Company and US industry chair of the Space Force/National Security Agency’s Commercial Space INFOSEC Working Group (CSIWG), told me in an email today.

“Rather than imposing specific requirements, SPD-5 affords all government stakeholders a policy framework to implement prudent practices to enhance resilience, including specific efforts to work with the commercial space sector overall and promote information sharing. That’s an improvement from the status quo,” he said.

Neither does it weaken current national security rules for cybersecurity, D’Uva stressed.

“For critical environments, e.g., commercial satellite communications support of national security space missions, well-established, more stringent requirements and collaboration mechanisms will continue to apply – SPD-5 doesn’t relax those essential protections one bit,” he said.

Another senior administration official on Friday said that one of the key tools for expanding public-private space cybersecurity efforts is the Critical infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC). This, he explained, is “a mechanism to facilitate interaction between government entities and representatives from the critical infrastructure communities.”

There are 16 sectors deemed “critical infrastructure” by the USG, and a number include space-related industries. Various government agencies interact via the partnership with those sectors on cybersecurity, including DoD, Commerce, NASA, the Department of Homeland Security and NASA, the official said.

The officials said that the Space Information and Analysis Sharing Center (Space-ISAC), an industry-led group that works with government agencies, is another important vector for implementation of SPD-5. As I reported in December, the National Security Council has made supporting the Space-ISAC a key priority.

“The release of SPD 5 is clearly aligned, apparently deliberately so, with the Space ISAC mission of collaboration and engagement among industry and government to avoid onerous regulations yet achieve cyber security for critical space systems. Space ISAC is ideally situated to be the convening entity that will help the space industry execute on the vision set forth in the SPD for industry wide collaboration to avoid directive regulations, and to enable the industry to continue to innovate,” Edward Swallow, senior vice president Civil Systems Group at The Aerospace Corporation and member of the Space ISAC Board, said in an email today.
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[*] posted on 24-9-2020 at 04:21 PM

AT&T to provide 5G capabilities at 3 US Air Force bases

Andrew Eversden

13 hours ago

The waning, gibbous moon is seen above a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft on the flight line at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska as hoarfrost engulfs nearby trees in -16F weather while airmen work around the plane. (Justin Connaher/Air Force)

WASHINGTON — AT&T will deliver network tools and 5G to three U.S. Air Force bases, the telecommunications giant announced Wednesday.

The company will provide the bases with its networking-as-a-service capabilities to 24,000 personnel across Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The company has completed 5G system design across the installations and expects to complete delivery of the services by the end of 2021.

“We’re proud and honored to bring AT&T 5G and other highly innovative commercial networking-as-a-service capabilities to the Air Force,” said Anne Chow, chief executive officer of AT&T Business. “We are helping the Air Force optimize the value of our 5G and other networking capabilities at these 3 bases and stand ready to work with them to extend these services across the entirety of the Air Force if they so choose.”

The Air Force made the award using so-called Other Transaction Agreements under its Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS) program, which aims to increase network speeds and modernize IT infrastructure at the service’s bases to support multi-domain operations.

According to the news release, AT&T 5G and networking-as-a-service capabilities will be able to support the Air Force’s efforts on Internet of Things devices and power everything from augmented and virtual reality, robotics, drones and network edge storage and computing.

“We think it is vital to test commercially provided services like 5G and software-based networking-as-a-service capabilities as we explore ways to help us innovate and improve our global air, space and cyber readiness,” said Col. Justin K. Collins, deputy of the Air Force’s enterprise IT & cyber infrastructure division. “We expect 5G service will help us improve the user experience and support a broad array of use cases that can enhance mission effectiveness.”

AT&T is also providing Base Area Network, Wide Area Network, telephony, internet access and highly secure interoperability with legacy systems at the three bases.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is also expected to award 5G contracts to service providers later this year at military bases across the United States. At least one of the bases, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, has decided on a vendor but has not announced the winner publicly.
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