Trending Technology Alert: The Impact of 5G

5G radio frequency national security

What is 5G?

5G is the newest generation in wireless network technology with speeds 10x faster than 4G, and in some areas being up to 100x faster. Using an entirely different radio frequency (RF) than 4G, 5G has a greater bandwidth equating to reduced network congestion, lower latency, and faster rates of transmission.

Telecommunications companies are frantically racing to increase their 5G coverage for obvious reasons, but why are countries also competing to dominate this new contested spectrum space?

5G In the Battlefield

Warfare is multi-dimensional in strategy and setting. National security was once primarily defended on land and sea. In 1955 during the Space Race against the Soviet Union it advanced to the skies and has now mobilized to cyber networks.

Electronic warfare (EW) is the newest battlefield, and it can be a serious threat. EW is an action that strategically uses the electromagnetic spectrum for military purposes used in cases like intercepting, locating, sending, disrupting, or jamming military communications.

5G Boosts VR

Virtual Reality (VR) is rapidly expanding across all military aspects, from increasing healthcare access to all U.S. military personnel to being utilized for combat training. VR technologies that mimic actual combat grounds must accurately depict and be precisely responsive to real-life actions and reactions. Lag time in these virtual immersive training environments (ITE’s) could result in real-world detrimental results.

Current 4G latency, the time in-between a command being given and the time it is received, is about 40-50 milliseconds. With 5G, the delay can be reduced to 1-4 milliseconds. What’s the significance? A bullet shot out of an M4 Carbine has a velocity of 2,970 fps. The distance that bullet travels in 45 milliseconds is 134 feet.

The significance, or consequence, of 45 milliseconds could be life-or-death for our soldiers.

The Sprint for 5G

Chinese-based companies Huawei and ZTE currently dominate the 5G market but the U.S government understands the impact this has on our nation.

In 2020, Congress passed multiple bills that mitigate China’s 5G takeover. The DoD specifically is allocating more resources to rapidly advance our nation’s own 5G networks. Advancement to the United States’ 5G networks is a direct advancement to our nation’s security

What Is 6G Technology?

The increased bandwidth enables it to support an infrastructure of devices, with lower vulnerability to interception. Setting it farther apart from 4G, 5G is able to integrate disparate military systems using 5G network-management structures, optimizing the interconnectivity of devices. Having sensors, weapons, UAVs, transport vehicles and more devices synchronously interact on one network increases interoperability, decreasing danger of mission and adding to our toolbox of keeping our fighters safe.

Building upon the increased capabilities of 5G, the goal of the future generation of wireless networking is to decrease latency to 1/1000th of one millisecond. 6G will even further support higher data rates and increase accuracy in wireless sensing technology. We now know leading the drive to 6G is critical. It is imperative to the warfighter and our national security that we maintain a leader in modern technological advancements and the networks supporting it.

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