The House’s version of the defense policy bill for fiscal 2020 includes $175 million for investment in developing military applications of the 5G network and calls for the Secretary of Defense to put in place a 5G strategy to that end.
The Senate’s version of the bill also makes significant investments in the Pentagon developing national security applications for 5G.
The House Armed Services Committee adopted the $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act June 14 following a marathon session that stretched for nearly 21 hours. While the full text of the legislation was not immediately available, a committee spokesperson confirmed that key 5G provisions were included in the committee’s final markup.
The legislation authorizes $175 million for the Pentagon to invest in 5G technologies. The money was not part of the Department of Defense’s budget request and signals the committee’s desire to ensure that the Joint Forces can operate effectively in the 5G spectrum.
The earlier markup of the bill from the HASC’s subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats and capabilities clarifies the intent of the 5G provisions in the legislation, although it’s not immediately clear if the language of the bill adopted by the full committee matches that draft language.
The draft version states that the strategy must include how the military will adopt 4G technology for the military before transitioning to 5G. The document also calls for 5G testbeds for developing military applications and research into spectrum-sharing technologies.
If passed by Congress, the legislation would require the Defense Secretary to brief Congress on his progress within 180 days of enactment, before submitting the full strategy document within 270 days.
The legislation would also require the Department of Defense to brief Congress on how 5G would change the Pentagon’s Trusted Microelectronics strategy, which Congress first called for in 2017. Citing China’s goal of dominating the microelectronics market by 2025, the committee asks how the department will be able to protect its supply chain and ensure access to trusted microelectronics. The bill would require a briefing on the updated strategy by February 15, 2020.
The Senate version of the bill, which was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee May 23, authorizes $49 million for the Pentagon to establish a 5G network at the Nevada Test and Training Range to test how the military can use 5G technologies to enhance combat operations. The Senate legislation also allows for the creation of a second test area, although it doesn’t specify where.
From here, both bills will go to the full House and Senate, respectively, for consideration.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.