The U.S. military has a major decision to make regarding next-generation warfare. And it needs to make it soon.
The decision relates to how it conducts the transition to 5G – the next generation of telecommunications technology – and the fact that the nation’s main rival, China, is ahead in 5G development and deployment.
The U.S. military desperately wants the benefits of 5G, namely the ability to transmit data at speeds up to 100 times faster than current 4G speeds and the benefits this allows. For example, 5G would allow the Pentagon to combine its fragmented networks into a single network.
In a speech to the Atlantic Council, Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisitions and support, spoke of the importance of 5G saying, “[i]f we don’t embrace [5G] and apply it towards our goals, we could be overcome quickly with technical overmatch. We can’t allow that to happen.”
But China’s dominance in the field has created a dilemma for American decision makers – whether to strike out on our own 5G path or follow China, a potential adversary, and the rest of the world on a separate 5G path.
There are two sections of spectrum that can be used for 5G deployment. One is in the 24 and 300 gigahertz spectrums, known as mmWave. The other is in the “sub-6” (below 6 gigahertz) spectrum.
Currently, an international debate is underway over which spectrum to use. The U.S. government is pushing for use of the mmWave spectrum. Most of the rest of the world, led by the Chinese, is pushing for the use of the sub-6 spectrum, citing its superior technology.
This has led some experts to question the U.S. government’s strategy
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