Verizon and the United States Marine Corps have teamed up to set up a 5G “living lab” at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), a San Diego military base.
The installation is meant to function as a test bed for potential 5G-enabled military defense applications that may, among other things, facilitate and secure smart bases of the future.
“In discussions with the Marine Corps on technology innovations, starting back in 2018, we saw how 5G could support future strategic initiatives,” said Verizon’s Director of Mobile Solutions, Federal Sales, Cornelius Brown in an interview with Nextgov. “We then worked with MCAS Miramar to bring this 5G Ultra Wideband to the base.”
Countries around the world are racing to implement 5G wireless networks that promise much faster speeds and lower latency than is possible with existing 4th generation infrastructure and technologies.
Thus far, China and tech giant Huawei appear to be leading the way, launching what was the largest ever single deployment of a 5G network last year.
The race has also served to increase tensions between the U.S. and China, with the Trump administration lobbying other nations to exclude Huawei from their networks, a move which seems to have had an impact on Britain’s recent decision to tear up a recent agreement with the company, banning their tech from the U.K.’s national 5G network.
Among the benefits that 5G could bring is the conversion of autonomous vehicles to connected vehicles, and a boost to the security and reliability of unmanned aerial system-driven missions including drone deliveries.
“Because the military has very little history in leveraging cellular technology, it’s critical that we quickly mature our understanding for these energy, connected vehicles, drones, and digital fortress 5G-enabled applications,” Lt. Col. Brandon Newell said. “Then we will have increased our position of knowledge for effective requirements development in all of these areas.”
Brown confirmed that though the 5G service is already up and running at the base, Verizon and onsite staff are working together to extend its coverage.