In May 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense published its 5G Strategy, which focuses on how advancing the use of this communications technology can help the United States in its long-term economic and military strategies and objectives.
A core part of this effort is partnering with industry to roll-out and test 5G networks at U.S. military bases. As the first base to leverage 5G, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar in San Diego partnered with Verizon and Qualcomm to collaboratively explore this communications innovation in the areas of energy management, connected vehicles, drones, and base security.
In part one of the two-part, MCAS Miramar 5G Podcast Series on Government Technology Insider, Lt. Col. Brandon Newell, Director, SoCal Tech Bridge for NavalX; Steve Lamb, Director of Network Field Engineering at Verizon; and Paul Guckian, Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm, all explored how 5G was made possible at the Miramar base.
“This journey started in 2017 with the autonomous vehicle proving ground at Miramar, which created opportunities for us to better understand disruptions in the market,” said Lt. Col. Newell. “At this time, we started to learn what 5G was, and to see this first-hand with connected vehicles. With this, we knew that 5G was a huge disruptor to the future, and not just around vehicles, but in so many other markets.”
In terms of migrating to 5G, industry collaboration was critical to success. “It is a complex process to light up a 5G node or an RF solution on a military base, and it definitely takes a village,” said Lamb. “With the Navy in San Diego, we lit up a lot of 4G small cells and applied this learning to Miramar. It was a challenge, and both sides wanted to get this done. It was a great partnership that made this happen.”
“When we first started collaborating on drone research in 2016, we worked with the base and this effort enhanced everyone’s learning for what was going to come in the future,” said Guckian. “A lot of the work informed the 5G technology, and this is the second year of deployment. We are excited to see Miramar explore new applications and serve the population on the base.”
At the close of this podcast, the discussion focused on how partnering with industry advances the adoption of long-term innovation for government mission success.