5G & Spectrum Monitoring

November 16, 2022 Megan Stamy

Fifth-generation wireless technology boasts boosted bandwidth, reduced latency and exponentially faster speeds — attributes critical to communication and data handling in a military environment. The jump in quality from 4G is expected to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, as well as empower new methods of command and control, among other things. In 2020, the Defense Department announced it would invest $600 million in 5G testbeds at five military installations across the U.S. Additional contracts were awarded in 2021.

If the United States and its global partners want to be able to provide the most advanced and highest quality 5G products in the world, then the DoD must develop and employ new concepts of operation that use the improved connectivity that 5G capabilities offer to increase the effectiveness, resilience, speed, and lethality of its forces.

The U.S. Department of Defense published a 5G strategy in 2020, suggesting that 5G technology would revolutionize how data is shared across all aspects of the military, but remains highly attuned to implementation challenges and other risks associated with the rollout of 5G capabilities. As a consequence, 5G testing remains a cornerstone of the rollout process and is key to establishing trusted connectivity and utilization. An example of this was the concern expressed by the FAA over possible 5G interference with commercial aircraft radar altimeter operation around airports. Through cooperation between aircraft operators, network administrators and the FAA, mitigating solutions were developed and implemented due largely to the positive results of extensive testing and spectrum monitoring.

Equipment from different manufacturers needs to interface smoothly as systems are comprised of sub-systems from multiple vendors. Standards, traceability and measurement accuracy are key to the success of such systems. For these reasons, Real Time Spectrum Analyzers (RTSA) in field portable spectrum analyzers, such as those offered by Anritsu, are becoming common for military system test requirements in the areas of cyber security, RF and signals intelligence, joint all-domain situational awareness, sensor data integration, logistics support and medical support activities, among others. An RTSA facilitates the capture and analysis of very short duration signals that are often the cause of interference or illicit communications.

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