5G on Air Force fightline

AF looks to expand 5G to 20 more bases

To support the expansion of 5G across military bases, the Air Force looking for companies interested in leasing space where they would install cellular infrastructure to support military and community users at 20 installations scattered across the nation.

Initially, the cellular infrastructure will provide high-capacity LTE service to cellular users. Areas to receive expanded and improved coverage include facilities for servicing and maintaining aircraft; the main base, including offices, hospitals and retail businesses supporting Air Force personnel and families; and family housing, including facilities typically found in residential neighborhoods such as gas stations, convenience stores, and recreation areas.

To meet its goal of comprehensive “fence-to-fence coverage” and increased capacity on its bases, the Air Force is streamlining the process for providers adding outdoor small cell antennas to the leased property to increase coverage.  The cellular infrastructure will be designed, constructed and operated at no cost to the Air Force or federal government, according to recent solicitation.

The project involves a real estate transaction under which the government leases space on vacant land, existing light poles, buildings or water towers “in exchange for in-kind consideration, for installing, operating and maintaining certain wireless telecommunication equipment that will increase, improve, strengthen the voice and data cellular signal, as well as upload and download speeds on, across, around, within the identified sites,” the solicitation said.

The Air Force is already working with Verizon on 5G installations at 10 bases in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. At Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which was flattened by Hurricane Michael in 2018, the Air Force is working with AT&T to build a “smart base of the future,” including reconstructing and transforming Tyndall’s communications infrastructure with 5G-powered capabilities. 

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