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Author: Subject: 5G: Pentagon Asks Tech Sector For Help

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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.

(211 of 439 words)
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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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