Pentagon picks Tinker Air Force Base as one of military's 5G test beds
By DALE DENWALT | The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman | Published: June 23, 2020
OKLAHOMA CITY (Tribune News Service) — The Pentagon has selected Tinker Air Force Base as one of the military’s 5G test beds.
Personnel at Tinker will study spectrum sharing, or more specifically, how the Department of Defense can share the 5G spectrum with commercial entities as more telecommunication services begin using that bandwidth for cellphones and the internet.
The fifth generation of cellular network technology, commonly known as 5G, is expected to bring faster download speed to mobile devices and other devices connected to the internet.
Chief Technology Officer Mike Valentine with Tinker’s 72nd Airbase Wing, Directorate of Communications, said the military already uses some frequencies in the 5G range.
“What we’re going to try and look at is how can we share that bandwidth between the commercial side and the military side,” Valentine said.
Tinker Air Force Base is one of 12 military installations selected for 5G testing and experimentation. Along with spectrum sharing, the Department of Defense has initiated programs to study shipwide and pier communications for the U.S. Navy, aircraft mission readiness, augmented reality support of maintenance and training, wireless connectivity for forward operating bases and network security.
The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.
Valentine said The Pentagon hopes to accelerate the use of advanced commercial telecommunications technology.
“Right now within the military, our feeling is we’re not taking advantage of the capabilities that 5G will bring to us,” he said.
At Tinker, Valentine and his team will develop capabilities to help the military operate in what’s expected to be a crowded space.
“With more people using Wi-Fi, everyone’s using cellphones, the spectrum is getting increasingly congested and sometimes we interfere with each other,’ he said.
The project at Tinker will kick off more formally with meetings this month.
“I’m excited we’re getting to bring some new and exciting stuff to Tinker Air Force Base and actually get to be the leading edge of 5G as it rolls out across the country,” Valentine said.
There will be contracting opportunities available. The Department of Defense has issued requests for proposals for several of the test programs at the website 5g-to-xg.org.