Air Force, AT&T push ahead with 5G testing

The Air Force announced that it will test out AT&T’s 5G networking-as-a-service capabilities at three bases.

The Air Force announced it will test out AT&T’s 5G networking-as-a-service capabilities at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. System design work is complete, and delivery of AT&T’s 5G service is anticipated to complete by the end of 2021.

“We think it is vital to test commercially provided services like 5G and software-based networking-as-a-service capabilities as we explore ways to help us innovate and improve our global air, space and cyber readiness,” Col. Justin K. Collins, deputy for the Air Force’s enterprise IT and cyber infrastructure division, said in a release. “We expect 5G service will help us improve the user experience and support a broad array of use cases that can enhance mission effectiveness.”

The 5G and networking-as-a-service capabilities will also support other advanced technology capabilities such as edge computing, internet-of-things applications, augmented and virtual reality, robotics and drones. In addition to 5G services, AT&T will provide a base-area network, wide-area network, telephony, internet access and secure interoperability with legacy systems at the three bases, company officials said.

Those efforts are happening alongside AT&T’s work at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to get 5G going for what is envisioned as a “smart base of the future,” along with a separate job at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to roll out both 5G infrastructure and the FirstNet public safety network there.

AT&T’s nationwide 5G network has grown from being live in 19 cities last year to what is now in 395 markets across the U.S. That progress in the overall commercial market is evidently what the Air Force and many other agencies are watching and learning from.

This article was first posted to Washington Technology, a sibling site to Defense Systems.