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Transforming Defence Networks to 5 G



Government Business Council in collaboration with AT & T released an expert dialogue on Transforming the Network: On and Off the Battlefield to map out the evolution of 5 G technology with the cooperation of the Department of Defence (DOD) and its building operations related requirements all over the globe.


From the DOD, the dialogue received inputs from Dr George Duchak, Chief Information Officer, Defence Logistics Agency, Mr Jody Little, Executive Program Manager/Director, USAF Joint Base San Antonio 5G NextGen and Mr Paul Puckett, Enterprise Clod Management Office Director, US Army.


From the AT&T Rita Marty, Vice President Architecture, AT&T and John M. Dillard, Director, DOD 5G Strategy and Solutions, AT&T joined in the dialogue to give an industry perspective.


5G Ecosystem and its Anticipated Role


Coming to 5G networks, how DOD envision balancing the requirement of isolated private 5G networks and the need for connecting devices to commercial networks while roaming is the final question to the DOD experts the dialogue raised.


To address that Mr Little, states that 5G was intended to be able to take care of all these open devices that carriers have. Therefore, they have standards that deploy zero trust and encryptions so that it should technically work on any system. A lot of focus has been on running private networks, connecting to the government private clouds and extending to MECs (multi-access edge computing). 5G will make all of this a lot easier as per the Report.

There are multiple layers of the system that needs to be working simultaneously and smoothly. That’s where interoperability comes up-not only being able to interconnect but to do it securely.


The 5G ecosystems run the risk of exposing DOD systems and networks to malicious security vulnerabilities just as any new technology. However, it also brings in the prospects of enhanced services, everything from improved wireless speeds to sharing large amounts of data in real-time. With that risks and rewards, the agency is looking at several mitigation strategies, while also ‘envision balancing the requirement through service-level agreements signed between private 5G networks and commercial 5G networks, so that devices will be able to roam between the private and commercial networks based on the credentials provided on the SIM card.’


The industry perspective agrees with the DOD's opinion of merits and demerits attached to the 5G network and how the private sector can assist the agency in achieving more security.

Disclosing his opinion on the 5G offering and broader military mission on a global scale, Mr Dillard states that resilient communications are a primary objective of the joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) vision for the DOD. And AT&T has been providing every needed assistance to Defence agencies to accelerate the 5G testing and deployment, including securely operating through 5G infrastructure as per the Report.


On 5G collaboration, the industry experts believe that ‘5G open radio access network (O-RAN) will be the key to integrating operations and implementing the DOD’s vision of all domain command and control, to eliminate seams and connect the sensors on the edge into the networks of networks.’


While discussing the private sector’s role in supporting the government’s 5G goals, AT&T describes its scale and reach as its global footprint in more than 225 countries. The DOD can always take advantage of the private sector’s vast resources that too at a lesser cost, instead of attempting to duplicate the innovation that already exists. As a global provider, Mr Dillard suggests that AT&T can deliver end-to-end solutions for the DOD’s tactical operations, with security at the foundation of everything they have been doing as per the Report.


[Compilation by Harshita Singh Panwar]

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