Second wave solicitations coming for DOD 5G test sites

The Defense Department plans to award the first three of seven new 5G test bed contracts in the spring.

The Department of Defense is moving quickly to get contracting processes in line for its second wave of next-generation wireless service tests, with possible contract awards by early next spring.

The DOD plans to have the first three solicitations of seven planned "Tranche 2" 5G testbeds out in early 2021, said Joseph Evans, technical director for 5G, in the agency's Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Initial solicitations for the agency's expanding 5G test sites include military bases in Virginia, California and Hawaii.

In remarks at an ACT-IAC Nov. 4 webcast, Evans said DOD's second batch of 5G wireless test beds is aimed at tackling a variety of applications from simple to complex.

The seven test bed efforts, announced in June, include Naval Base Norfolk in Virginia, focusing on shipwide and pier-side connectivity; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, testing aircraft mission readiness; and Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, probing augmented reality and training. The National Training Center at Fort Irwin and Camp Pendleton, both in California, and Fort Hood in Texas, will test wireless connectivity, while Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma will focus on bi-directional spectrum sharing between DOD communications systems and commercial 5G systems.

Solicitations for three of the seven new Tranche 2 sites (Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Camp Pendleton and Naval Base Norfolk) have been started, according to Evans, and are being solicited through the Information Warfare Research Program.

DOD plans to issue final solicitations for the three sites as quickly as possible and get responses in December and January, with contract awards in the spring, he said.

"That's the plan for the first three. The second set of four that will follow will be contracted through the National Spectrum Consortium." Solicitations for those will come in late December or early January, he said.

The DOD set its first tranche of 5G wireless test beds at five bases around the country in 2019. In October, the agency said it had awarded $600 million in contracts to 15 prime contractors to perform testing and evaluation at those bases. Tranche 1 locations include Hill Air Force Base in Utah; Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state; Marine Corps Logistics Base in Georgia; Naval Base San Diego in California; and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

This article first appeared on FCW, a Defense Systems partner site.