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Hill’s functional 5G network the first of its kind on a US military installation

By Deborah Wilber - | Dec 6, 2021

Photo supplied, R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force

From left, Col. Peter Feng, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander; Amanda Toman, Department of Defense 5G Initiative acting principal director; Debra Stanislawski, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Tranche SG Prototyping and Experimentation director; and Jeffrey Sick, Air Force Sustainment Center director of logistics, cut a ribbon to celebrate the first deployed and functional 5G network on a U.S. military installation at Hill Air Force Base on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. The project began in 2019, when the Department of Defense sought to demonstrate innovative prototypes that use commercial 5G technologies as a way to augment future military capabilities.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Military officials deployed the first functional 5G network at a U.S. military installation on Thursday at Hill Air Force Base, which hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the occasion.

The Department of Defense initiated the Dynamic Spectrum Utilization program in 2019, with a goal of seeking out innovative prototypes that can demonstrate commercial 5G technologies in order to augment future military capabilities.Hill was one of several bases chosen to participate in the program, according to Kendahl Johnson with the 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs office.

In a statement, Nick Kowalchuk, program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory, said the program provides industry partners with technology vital to ensuring commercial 5G systems and military airborne radar systems can optimally coexist within the same spectrum band without interference.

“The technology developed can influence the future open standards of cellular technology and has the potential to help free up the 3.1-3.3 gigahertz band for future commercial use,” he said.

With commercial cellular systems and airborne radars operating at different frequencies and different types of systems operating in frequency bands reserved exclusively for them, there were no unreserved bands available to meet a growing demand for wireless communications.

A standalone 5G cellular network will be created for experimentation to test, refine and create effective strategies for dynamic spectrum sharing so systems can share radio frequency spectrum.

The 75th ABW provided operational support such as telecom, cybersecurity, information technology and civil engineering resources to the project. According to Johnson, the wing’s resources were critical to the 5G DSU fixed cell site’s construction and deployment.

The work at Hill is part of a $600 million plan to perform testing and evaluation of 5G technologies at military installations across the U.S. Upon announcing the 5G initiatives last year, the Defense Department estimated a three-year window for Hill’s involvement. After a year of preparation, that leaves two years for experimentation of the technology.

“For us to be a part of this new wave of innovation is amazing,” Col. Peter Feng, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander, said in a statement. “5G is the future, and the ability to connect everyone to everything is essential.”

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