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Air Force Aims to Expand 5G Capabilities to All Bases, According to CTO Frank Konieczny

Jericho Casper



Photo of Air Force virtual training environment by John Ingle used with permission

July 15, 2020 — 5G technologies will eventually revolutionize government, said panelists on a Wednesday webinar sponsored by AT&T.

Owen Rodgers, federal government chief architect at AT&T, said he expects to see 5G innovation in the areas of defense, health and education throughout government.

The U.S. Air Force already utilizes 5G strategies, said Air Force Chief Technology Officer Frank Konieczny.

5G offers low latency and wireline speeds that can be used for critical operations, which previously relied on wired infrastructure.

The next generation of networks offers mobile and fixed wireless deployments, as well as numerous capabilities presented by network edge and multi-access computing technologies.

Rodgers noted that multi-access computing technologies would be of particular interest to the federal government, as they analyze, process and store computing traffic and services closer to the user, rather than moving data to a centralized cloud, which is less secure.

According to Konieczny, there is currently an effort to get 5G services to all Air Force bases across the country. Already, 10 bases in the Southeast and 20 bases in the Northwest employ 5G.

Konieczny noted that it is crucial to provide all bases with equal opportunities by extending 5G services to less populous bases like those in North Dakota and South Dakota.

5G can be used to assist in operations on Air Force bases in a variety of ways. For example, 5G would make it feasible for all data to be transmitted off of an aircraft before it even lands.

Other potential uses for 5G lie in empowering telemedicine and Internet of Things applications. The Air Force is currently working on adding new sensors to things that never had them before, such as motors, enabling them with IoT connectivity.

5G could further be used to support augmented and virtual reality simulation training systems, allowing for more complex software and greater data transmission.

The panelists noted the biggest challenge 5G presents is security issues.

While Rodgers noted 5G is inherently more secure than previous generations of networks, it is less secure than wired infrastructure with protected endpoints.


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