5G Initiatives by Government Agencies Enter New Stage

Anritsu Company

July 5, 2022

Events of the past year have generated industry-wide momentum in the development and eventual deployment of 5G throughout federal agencies and organizations. Led by government initiatives and coalitions, the proposed Department of Defense (DoD) budget indicates a growing focus on rapid fielding of 5G solutions in all areas of strategic development. This includes space, airborne- and ground-based networks, cyber security, maritime domain awareness, and global logistics management, among others.

In early 2022, the Pentagon announced the establishment of a 5G and FutureG Cross-Functional Team. This initiative will accelerate the adoption of transformative 5G and future-generation wireless networking technologies, so U.S. forces can interact and operate effectively anywhere, including in contested environments.

5G government

Additionally, the DoD - in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) - launched the 5G Challenge to accelerate the “development and adoption of open interfaces, interoperable components, and multi-vendor solutions toward the development of an open 5G ecosystem.” The goal of the challenge is to create a large vendor community to help the DoD build a true 5G “plug-and-play” environment, replacing the current costly and less secure ecosystem featuring closed-based software and hardware.

The DoD submitted its FY2023 budget at $250 million for 5G projects. The DoD is pouring heavy investments into 5G to develop data-centric networks and weapons systems that communicate with each other.

5G Helps Meet Modern Warfare Needs

Such investments will help the military better scale its warfare tactics and strategies. For example, the DoD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), which is being developed to connect sensors from all of the military services into a single network, requires fast, robust and dependable networks to connect multiple weapons and inform decision makers in a real-time manner.

JADC2 will connect the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines through one network.  Note: image courtesy of DoD.
Figure 1: JADC2 will connect the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines through one network. Note: image courtesy of DoD.

5G military applications will utilize ever-more sophisticated RF communications consisting of more complex modulations. As a result, ensuring trusted operation of 5G defense systems will require precise test and measurement solutions that deliver highly accurate and traceable measurements. Specifically, all communication networks rely on key metrics - frequencies, timing, signal levels, et al – to determine the validity and quality of signal transmission and reception. Without the ability to observe these parameters precisely, military communication systems would be compromised and rendered unreliable and ineffectual.

Test equipment from different manufacturers needs to interface smoothly with systems that are comprised of sub-systems from multiple vendors. Unless each sub-system is confident in the performance of its components with which it connects, they will fail to interoperate. Standards, traceability, and measurement accuracy are the cornerstone of this success.

One device designed to accurately determine interoperability quality and validity is the Real Time Spectrum Analyzer (RTSA), most often utilized in field portable configurations. An RTSA facilitates the capture and analysis of very short duration signals that are often the cause of interference or illicit communications. For example, the Field Master Pro™ MS2090A is a very common solution designed for military system test.

Portability and shorter test cycles are driving simplification of testing methods of procedure (MOP). Results need to be uploaded to cloud services in real time so that they can be analyzed by all stakeholders. The MS2090A provides this capability.

High-speed Access for All Americans

Also, of national priority is the on-going initiative by Congress and the White House to provide Americans with 5G network benefits as quickly as possible. NTIA is actively involved in domestic 5G networks, as well, as it developed the National Strategy to Secure 5G. The comprehensive plan details how the U.S. will lead global development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G infrastructure.

The first of four lines of effort in the National Strategy to Secure 5G is to facilitate domestic 5G rollout. This portion of the plan outlines the commitment to establish a new research and development initiative to develop advanced communications and networking capabilities to achieve security, resilience, safety, privacy, and coverage of 5G and beyond at an affordable cost.

As part of the domestic rollout, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a goal to modernize regulations and update its infrastructure policy to better support 5G implementation. All initiatives are designed to overcome the inherent infrastructure challenges associated with 5G adoption.

Federal agencies are looking to upgrade nationwide network infrastructures to prepare for 5G technology to meet the connectivity demands of a mobile and ever-growing remote workforce. Another factor is growing mission-critical needs to transfer massive data loads with low latency to support a range of applications – from high-definition video to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) associated with emerging IoT use cases.

A Changing Network Ecosystem

For all these reasons, network infrastructure (figure 2) must evolve to meet the needs of 5G. Achieving low latency, high bandwidth and high speed associated with 5G requires integration of 400G Ethernet, moving the elements to the network edge, and implementing new technologies, including O-RAN, among other considerations.  

Example of a 5G network.
Figure 2: Example of a 5G network.

To achieve successful deployment in urban and rural settings alike, a new generation of field test solutions must support 5G networks. In addition to conventional throughput and BER measurements, 5G network evaluations will focus on eCPRI/RoE, high-accuracy latency, and time synchronization measurements. The Network Master™ Pro MT1000A supports every measurement function required for 5G mobile network deployment, including eCPRI/RoE, High-Resolution Latency (Delay), and PTP-based Time Synchronization.

Adding Always-on Forward Error Correction (FEC) is a key technology to achieve 400G Ethernet speeds, supporting 5G traffic growth. With built-in FEC analysis functions, the Network Master Pro™ MT1040A is the ideal tester for evaluating the communications quality of optical modules, such as QSFP-DD, and the performance of 400G devices. A 100G Transport Module can be added to the base MT1040A instrument to enable eCPRI/RoE and precision latency and time synchronization measurements, as well.

Fiber cables are critical to transmit high bandwidth data from 5G base stations to data centers at a high speed. To efficiently evaluate optical cables during installation and maintenance (I&M), the ACCESS Master MT9085 compact optical fiber tester has a built-in OTDR and optical power and loss measurement functions.

Anritsu provides a library of government resources, including technologies and test solutions. Visit us today to access materials you’ll need to develop your effective 5G strategy and approach. 

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