The Pentagon will release a draft request for proposals (RFP) in November to find industry 5G telecommunications solutions that can be tested in large-scale experiments at four military bases, officials said Wednesday.
Lisa Porter, deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering, told reporters the initial phase for 5G experimentation will focus on three use cases: dynamic spectrum sharing, integrating augmented and virtual reality tools and testing Smart Warehouse capabilities.
“The uses cases we’re looking at have obvious military and commercial relevance,” Porter said. “We’re going to be rolling this out in tranches, because we want to learn as we go. Our first RFP will four test sites and three use cases. We will continue to do new tests sites and new uses as we go forward.”
Officials will gather industry feedback on the draft and are planning to release a final RFP in December, contingent on Congress passing a budget before then, with a goal of eventually awarding multiple contracts to potentially teams of vendors.
“We did a lot of homework before we got to this point. I thought it was very important for us to actually listen to industry because, quite frankly, they are the leaders in this domain technologically,” Porter said.
Proposals are expected to detail current prototype technologies and plans to employ commercial tools to enhance current military capabilities and more rapidly deploy 5G to the force.
The Pentagon will announce the locations of the four test sites with the draft RFP, and is planning on adding new use cases and opportunities every quarter.
An earlier Request for Information and received 260 responses from industry detailing potential ideas on 5G applications for DoD use cases, according to Joe Evans, the DoD’s technical director for 5G.
Porter and Evans said they spoke to the major telecommunications companies, including AT&T [ATT], Sprint [S] and Verizon [VZ], as well as microelectronics and software vendors, to understand opportunities for collaboration and current challenges with managing spectrum.
“This is where we have to figure out, collaboratively with industry, how we can dynamically share spectrum so that we can much more efficiently use it,” Porter said. “We, as the United States, have a real challenge with spectrum, especially mid-band. We have to acknowledge that together. We need to work that out. Industry needs access to spectrum. DoD needs access to spectrum. We both acknowledge each other’s challenges. This is a call to action about figuring out how to do this together.”
The Pentagon is interested in all levels of the spectrum for 5G, from low-band, mid-band, high-band and millimeter-wave, according to Porter.
“We see the opportunity of hybrid approaches which bring to bear all these spectrums for where they are best used. It’s all pieces of the spectrum that matters. We want to make sure we have approaches that allow us to low-, mid- and high-band,” Porter said.