AT&T Demonstrates 5G Capabilities for Department of Defense

What’s the news? AT&T* successfully completed its first milestone toward proving the capabilities of its 5G network solution to enable “smart warehouse” applications for the Department of Defense’s Naval Base Coronado in San Diego. AT&T’s 5G network solution demonstrated data throughput speeds greater than 4 gigabits per second with less than 10 milliseconds of latency using AT&T 5G spectrum and a private 5G Core and Radio Access Network (RAN). This performance was demonstrated with commercially available commodity mobile devices at a testbed facility in Richardson, Texas.

Why is this important? In October 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced $600 million in awards for 5G experimentation and testing at five U.S. military test sites, representing the largest full-scale 5G tests for dual-use applications in the world. DOD seeks to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge 5G testing and experimentation to strengthen our Nation’s warfighting capabilities as well as U.S. economic competitiveness in this critical field.

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AT&T’s successful demonstration of its 5G networking capabilities allows the program to advance to its next stage: delivering AT&T 5G across the 120,000 square foot Naval Base Coronado warehouse. There, we expect to efficiently and securely connect smart warehouse application infrastructure to provide high-speed, low-latency 5G connectivity for autonomous mobile robots, video cameras, Internet of Things (IoT), and AR/VR systems that will enable inventory tracking, transshipment and other elements of DOD’s objectives for the test. Following successful completion of that stage of the test, AT&T 5G is expected to integrate with official Navy systems to enable Smart Warehouse capabilities.

What is AT&T’s participation in the 5G Experiments announced by DOD? DOD selected AT&T as the primary 5G networking services provider for 2 of the 4 U.S. military test sites where it is testing 5G capabilities as part of DOD’s Tranche 1 experiments:

1. Naval Base Coronado, San Diego, CA – 5G Smart Warehousing

The objective of this project is to develop a 5G-enabled Smart Warehouse focused on transshipment between shore facilities and naval units, to increase the efficiency and fidelity of naval logistic operations, including identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval, and transportation of materiel and supplies.  Additionally, the project will create a proving ground for testing, refining, and validating emerging 5G-enabled technologies. 

2. Fort Hood, Killeen, TX – Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Training

This DOD 5G project was originally designated for Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, WA. It has been relocated by DOD to U.S. Army base Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas.

The objective of this project is to enable modular, deployable and secure 5G connectivity on currently available training devices, specifically the Instrumentable Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (I-MILES) and the U.S. Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).  DOD is testing 5G support for tactical edge use cases that integrate I-MILES and IVAS with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) capabilities to conduct mission planning, distributed training, and operations. 

Here’s what people are saying:

Tim Ruth, NBC 5G Smart Warehouse PMT Lead – NIWC Pacific

“My team and I are very pleased by the 5G results demonstrated in the testbeds in Richardson and look forward to timely and successful implementation of the 5G capabilities in the next phase of this project at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego.”

Lance Spencer, Client Executive Vice President – Defense, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet

“AT&T 5G demonstrated data throughput speeds of more than 4 gigabits per second on commodity mobile user equipment, far surpassing the data throughput speeds DOD has seen in other tests. More importantly, we look forward to moving to the next stage of implementation with DOD at Naval Base Coronado and helping it create its Smart Warehouse there with a scalable solution.”

What is the timeline for the completion of DOD’s program with AT&T? In October 2020, DOD awarded a 3-year agreement to AT&T to participate in DOD’s 5G experiments. With the completion of the 5G tests at Richardson, AT&T is now shipping equipment to Naval Base Coronado for the next stage of testing.