Marine Corps Brings 5G Connectivity to Base Defense

Warrior Maven

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By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington, D.C.) Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., is integrating emerging Verizon 5G Networking into its base operations as part of a decided effort to increase connectivity across the facility, assess new, high-speed networking technologies and better enable the use of unmanned systems.

“We are getting Fiber to more locations to find the right access points for 5G,” Nick Nilan, Director, public sector product development, Verizon, told Warrior in an interview.

Nilan explained that the now-underway process, which involves extensive collaboration between U.S. military and commercial partners, reportedly creates networking as fast and efficiently as 1,000-times faster than existing systems.

“Currently, 4G LTE has download speeds ranging from 30 – 100Mbps. 5G Ultra Wideband has the potential for much faster downloads at over 1 Gbps, ten times or more faster than the fastest 4G networks,” Nilan explained.

The process, which is still very much in a nascent assessment phase, introduces a handful of new tactical possibilities for military installations. Of course not only does it enable vastly improved connectivity on post, but the use of 5G also enables the improved use of autonomous vehicles and other technologies of great utility for base operations and defense.

Verizon and the Marine Corps are also working with several new 5G-oriented start-ups on the project, including. COMSovereign, GenXComm, Omnispace, and VRotors. Each of the start-ups received $50,000 and the opportunity to demonstrate their technology with the Marine Corps.

“Developments like this lower the barrier to entry and provide a mechanism to establish meaningful partnerships with a part of the innovation base, which can introduce novel ideas to push the limits of technology. Our partnership with the Marines and Verizon established the first DoD 5G Living Lab, enabling the joint forces and industry partnership to lead the way — at Marine speed,” Carly Jackson, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Fast-moving drones, equipped with adaptable sensors and a massively increased ability to receive, transmit and process information, can move supplies, perform higher-risk missions beyond at perimeter as needed as well as greatly enhance base security. High-speed computing and networking, integrated into sensors, navigational systems and even weapons, can now increasingly draw upon advanced, AI-empowered algorithms to detect threats, accelerate system functionality for things like defensive radar and quickly follow cues from humans operating in a command and control capacity.

The 5G application, which naturally greatly decreases latency, also needs to be sufficiently hardened against potential hackers or cyber-intruders. These technical efforts have long been underway with Pentagon cyber experts and weapons developers, who have in recent years been moving to quickly integrate a growing number of commercial technologies to expedite development and in some cases keep pace with technological change. Alongside the Corps, other services are also working with Verizon, a firm with longstanding involvement with the U.S. military services.

Verizon’s work on cutting edge 5G networking is already closely aligned with a number of U.S. military initiatives to both embrace 5G and also begin early work to explore the prospect of 6G as well. It is with these modern dynamics in mind that the Army Research Office is funding a government, industry and academic team of researchers now on the cutting edge of establishing a new, high-frequency, highly-promising semiconducting transistor technology.

“Leaders across the Department of Defense understand the mission-critical role Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband will play in unlocking innovation and technology for the military,” Andrés Irlando, senior vice president and president, Public Sector and Verizon Connect at Verizon, said in a statement.

The transistor technology involves the use of carbon nanotubes, described in an essay from Science Daily, as materials which “take the form of cylindrical carbon molecules.”

Aligned carbon nanotubes, Army Research Office developers explain, offer a new level of processing and transmission performance which not only exceeds the much-discussed 5G technology—but brings the prospect of evolving toward 6G speeds—and beyond. The potential implications of this kind of technology have few limits, and span both near and far term possibilities, Dr. Joe Qiu, program manager, solid state and electromagnetics at the Army Research Office, told The National Interest in an interview earlier this year.

Aligned carbon nanotubes, Army Research Office developers explain, offer a new level of processing and transmission performance which not only exceeds the much-discussed 5G technology—but brings the prospect of evolving toward 6G speeds—and beyond. The potential implications of this kind of technology have few limits, and span both near and far-term possibilities, Dr. Joe Qiu, program manager of solid-state and electromagnetics at the Army Research Office, told Warrior in an interview.

The partnership includes the Army Research Laboratory’s Army Research Office, a firm known as Carbonics, and the University of Southern California. The goal of the effort has been to demonstrate a “carbon nanotube technology that, for the first time, achieved speeds exceeding 100GHz in radio frequency applications,” according to an Army Research Laboratory report.

These speeds, developers tell The National Interest, massively exceed the performance parameters of existing consumer electronics, such as cell phones. Qiu explained that carbon nanotubes are now known to be capable of high-speed, efficient electron transport; they are able to achieve a much greater level of high-frequency transistor technology, Qiu explained.

-- Kris Osborn is the Managing Editor of Warrior Maven and The Defense Editor of The National Interest --

Kris Osborn is Defense Editor for the National Interest*. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.*

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