Executive Summary

The term “5G” refers to the oncoming fifth generation of wireless networks and technology that will produce a step-change improvement in data speed, volume, and latency (delay in data transfer) over fourth generation (4G and 4G LTE) networks. 5G will enable a host of new technologies that will change the standard of public and private sector operations, from autonomous vehicles to smart cities, virtual reality, and battle networks. Historical shifts between wireless generations suggest that the first-mover country stands to gain billions in revenue accompanied by substantial job creation and leadership in technology innovation. First movers also set standards and practices that were then adopted by subsequent entrants. Conversely, countries that fell behind in previous wireless generation shifts were obligated to adopt the standards, technologies, and architectures of the leading country and missed out on a generation of wireless capabilities and market potential.

In the early 2010’s, AT&T and Verizon rapidly deployed LTE across the United States on the 700 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum they won at auction in 2008. Building on this deployment, the United States became the first country (after Finland) to see a comprehensive LTE network that delivered approximate 10x the consumer network performance of then-existing 3G networks. This step-change in performance drove rapid adoption of new handsets with new semiconductors that not only could move much more data, but were also computationally much faster. U.S. companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and countless others built new applications and services that took advantage of that bandwidth. As LTE was deployed in other countries, those same handsets and applications spread across the world. This initiative helped drive global U.S. dominance in wireless and internet services, and created a U.S.-led wireless ecosystem on which the Department of Defense (DoD) and the rest of the world has operated for nearly a decade. Since the rollout of LTE, these wireless competitive landscape has undergone many changes.

Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei grew global revenues from approximately $28B in 2009 to $107B in 2018, while other traditional market leaders like Ericsson and Nokia have declined in revenue over that same period. Chinese handset vendors like Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo have rapidly grown in global market share, and are still growing rapidly in adoption and influence despite minimal sales in the U.S. market. In 2009, all of the top 10 Internet companies by revenue were American. Today, four of the top 10 are Chinese. These trends are already in effect, and 5G has the potential to skew future networks even further in the direction of China if it continues to lead.The shift from 4G to 5G will drastically impact the future of global communication networks and fundamentally change the environment in which DoD operates. While DoD will feel the impact of 5G, the rollout itself will be driven by the U.S. commercial sector. This study provides insight into the commercial landscape as well as the DoD landscape to give a comprehensive view of the stakeholders and future of 5G. 5G has the ability to enhance DoD decision-making and strategic capabilities from the enterprise network to the tactical edge of the battlefield. 5G will increase DoD’s ability to link
DIB 5G Study Preliminary Release, 3 April 20193multiple systems into a broader network while sharing information in real time, improving communication across Services, geographies, and domains while developing a common pictureof the battlefield to improve situational awareness. This improved connectivity may in turn enable a host of new technologies and missions, from hypersonics and hypersonic defense to resilient satellite constellations and mesh networks.

Spectrum will play a key role in the operation, development and roll-out of 5G.Peak data rates are driven by the amount of spectrum that is available to a wireless service. In 4G, up to five 20 MHz channels can be bonded together.But in 5G, up to five 100 MHz channels can be bonded together, enabling speeds approximately 20x faster than 4G and 4G LTE. While some 5G technology will be deployed in the currently-used cellular spectrum and achieve modest gains in performance (LTE is already fairly well optimized),full 5G development will require significantly more spectrum to provide another step-change improvement in performance for consumers, DoD or otherwise.Countries are pursuing two separate approaches to deploy hundreds of MHz of new spectrum for 5G.The first focuseson the part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum below 6 GHz (“Low-to Mid-Band Spectrum,” also referred to as “sub-6”), primarily in the 3 and 4 GHz bands. The second approach focuses on the part of the spectrum between ~24 and 300 GHz (“High-Band Spectrum,” or “mmWave”), and is the approach taken by the United States, South Korea, and Japan (although all three countries are also exploring sub-6 to various degrees). U.S. carriers are primarily focused on mmWave deployment for 5G because most of the 3 and 4 GHz spectrum being used by the rest of the world for 5G are exclusive Federal bands in the United States, extensively used by DoD in particular