#68 5G in Defence

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on Wed Oct 27 2021 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

with Darren W Pulsipher, Leeland Brown,

Darren Pulsipher, Chief Solution Architect, Intel, continues his discussion with Leeland Brown, Technical Director of 5G, Intel Federal about 5G past, present, and future, with emphasis on its use with the Department of Defense. Part 2 of 2.


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At the turn of the century, the Department of Defense was looking at ways to apply 2G technologies, wireless LAN, and Bluetooth in applications to enable soldiers to capture information in the battlespace. In 2021, those capabilities are still being sought after. The Department of Defense is looking heavily into 5G now since it has moved away from monolithic constructs such as utilizing one RAN architecture and into software defined architectures. There is the flexibility to build new capabilities faster and scale it to different use cases.

The commercial side of 5G is driven by strategies and stretching developing revenue. That doesn’t necessarily line up to the mission requirements of the federal government or Department of Defense, so the lines between the two worlds are blurring as, for example, AT&T Verizon looks at federal use cases, or Lockheed Martin with their 5G Domino program looks at the commercial space. The difference is who understands the mission and who is driving for the purpose of revenue.

Currently, ninety percent of commercial 5G deployments are non-standalone networks, meaning 5G is still connected to an existing 4G evolved packet core. The Department of Defense is interested in standalone networks with a complete 5G core, 5G RAN, and 5G devices. There can be a standalone network for a group of soldiers, along with small form factor base stations for vehicular platforms, and multiple protected domains, even drones deployed with some type of 5G access point and space applications.

This ability to scale across multiple use cases and their various types of workloads is applicable to the commercial side as well. One of the biggest issues, however, is who owns the frequency. Some free spectrum is available with limited range, but these bands, such as ISN bands, are unlicensed and very crowded. The rule is that you must give and accept interference and have your technology work around that, but dynamic system sharing is possible. However, for federal use cases, you can’t be blocked into operations in the U.S. since most soldiers are deployed outside of the U.S.

Leeland predicts that 5G will become integrated into everyone’s life, sometimes when you don’t even know its there. Pattern recognition platforms, for example, facial recognition, and autonomous vehicles will all be connected via 5G. Your broadband access will be integrated into a seamless footprint, connected beyond your cell phone to your car and home. The need for a phone in your hand will dramatically reduce as we begin to see wireless access points in all parts of our lives.

Leeland also predicts that the “G” will go away as the technology expands and evolves.

To learn more about 5G, the technically inclined can go to the 3GPP standards to see the specificity cases. You can read a spec and understand the difference between release 14 and release 15 and what that means for the industry as a whole. There is also a lot of information available via the internet such as white papers. Leeland also offers himself as a point of contact.

Leeland would like the next step to be a call to action to make the networks more resilient through the adoption of new technologies. During emergencies, whether natural disasters or terrorist attacks, resiliency is necessary for first responders, as well as for people simply trying to reach their families.

Podcast Transcript