The Pentagon Reportedly Wants to Build Its Own 5G Network

September 23, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: 5gTechnologyWeaponsMilitaryPentagon

The Pentagon Reportedly Wants to Build Its Own 5G Network

A request for information asks about national security concerns, as well as “statutory, legal, regulatory or policy hurdles.”

5G networks are beginning to roll out, with smartphones that operate using that technology having arrived throughout the year. Apple’s new lineup of iPhones, which is expected to arrive next month, is expected to drive 5G adoption to newer heights.

But now, there’s a report that the Department of Defense is looking at a 5G network of its own.

Per FCW, the Pentagon has filed a request for information (RFI) to possibly “implement dynamic spectrum sharing that would support 5G development and deployment for military and commercial users within the same frequency bands.” 

The report also says that DoD currently controls much of the “mid-band spectrum used for high-power radar operations ideal for 5G.” It’s referred to as Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS).

“DoD seeks information on innovative solutions and alternative approaches to enable DSS within the Department’s currently allocated spectrum with the goal of accelerating spectrum sharing decisions and 5G deployment,” the document says.  “The intent is to ensure the greatest effective and efficient use of the Department of Defense’s spectrum for training, readiness, and lethality. This RFI is seeking information regarding all methods and approaches, and feasibility, to best develop and deploy DSS across a broad range of capabilities and for future understanding of how spectrum may be utilized in both 5G and innovative technologies.”

The document also asks some questions, including how DoD could own and operate 5G networks, and any potential issues with doing so. It also asks whether new technologies can be made available to make the 5G network faster. It also asks about national security concerns, as well as “statutory, legal, regulatory or policy hurdles.”

Interested parties are asked to respond with a white paper, with a deadline of October 19, thirty days after the request for information was filed. They were also invited to possibly meet with representatives of the DoD to discuss their proposals. 

The request, per the RFI, does not commit the department to “contract for any supply or service whatsoever.” 

In other 5G news, PC Mag this week released its rankings of the existing 5G networks and ranked Verizon first. It also found that AT&T’s current version of 5G, in most cities, is closer than its 4G offering. Per an Ars Technica analysis, the difference has a lot to do with how AT&T has allocated the spectrum thus far. In the long run, it’s likely that 5G will be the faster technology. 

“While Verizon regains the title of fastest mobile network in our first nationwide 4G and 5G test, the carrier still has very little coverage,” PCMag wrote. “And AT&T's and T-Mobile's 5G networks don't help their overall performance much.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters