Insight by Verizon

5G is changing the way the military connects its bases and its people

As 5G begins to roll out in civilian and military spaces, the Defense Department is testing 5G networks at a handful of bases to ensure connectivity and security.

Since last year, the Pentagon has had contracts for 5G experimentation at nearly a dozen different installations to make “smart bases.”

“In essence, a smart base of the future is the integration of connected technologies that will fundamentally improve the performance and efficiency of assets and services across a military installation,” said Cornelius Brown, Verizon’s Department of Defense sales director, during the Federal Insights discussion Smart Base of the Future, sponsored by Verizon. “As we define smart bases, we can essentially view them as mini cities in itself, where infrastructure, building transportation, energy management, are all factors of a city and a base. What drives a smart base is that they’re all hyper connected, it’s an ecosystem where everything becomes connected.”

That kind of system is what the Pentagon is aiming for when it comes to its future weapons systems, artificial intelligence and how it wants everything to be interconnected with data and interoperability.

“There’s a large collaboration with multiple industry players to really enable various use cases around energy management, drone management, autonomous vehicles, and it’s really a collaborative effort to really prove out what the customer wants to accomplish,” Brown said. “5G brings mobile edge computing closer to the end user, or the application via the cloud. This really removes a lot of historical latency that prevented us from applications being able to make near real time decisions.”

It’s not just the Pentagon’s weapons systems that will see changes with 5G. Military personnel will also see their connected lives move in a different direction as well.

“For military personnel living on the base, they’ll be able to take an autonomous shuttle or bus that will get them around, all that cool stuff,” Bryan Schromsky, a managing partner for 5G public sector at Verizon said. “More importantly they’ll see it in connection. If they’re using a video calling platform on these connected devices, they’ll just have a much better experience. They’ll be in high definition video, they’ll have faster bit rates, so they can do more videos. They can upload information, all of that good stuff and couldn’t ask for much more to have a very intimate and immersive experience in a personal way.”

With that new power and ease also comes new responsibilities and challenges, however.

By adding more devices to the network, it creates more opportunities for malicious actors to get into the network. DoD will need to protect its assets from outside attacks like hackers and inside attacks like a faulty supply chain.

“Having a coordinated security policy is the right approach  ,” Schromsky said. “We want to make sure we have a valid, secure supply chain and also work with industry standards. Most importantly we want to have outreach in working with public sector agencies, federal, state and local to make sure that we meet their needs and their challenges.”

DoD will need to rely on future technologies as 5G develops to better security measures.

Schromsky said quantum computing will have a large role to play in encryption and not only making military bases safe, but also securing financial transactions and personal data.

Defining the Smart Base of the Future

In essence, a smart base of the future is the integration of connected technologies that will fundamentally improve the performance and efficiency of assets and services across a military installation.

Opportunities and Challenges with 5G

For military personnel living on the base, they'll be able to take an autonomous shuttle or bus that will get them around, all that cool stuff. More importantly they’ll see it in connection. If they're using a video calling platform on these connected devices, they'll just have a much better experience. They'll be in high definition video, they'll have faster bit rates, so they can do more videos. They can upload information, all of that good stuff and couldn't ask for much more to have a very intimate and immersive experience in a personal way.

Listen to the full show:

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  • Cornelius Brown

    Director, Department of Defense Sales, Verizon

  • Bryan Schromsky

    Managing Partner, 5G Public Sector, Verizon

  • Scott Maucione

    Defense Reporter, Federal News Network