WASHINGTON — AT&T will deliver network tools and 5G to three U.S. Air Force bases, the telecommunications giant announced Wednesday.

The company will provide the bases with its networking-as-a-service capabilities to 24,000 personnel across Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The company has completed 5G system design across the installations and expects to complete delivery of the services by the end of 2021.

“We’re proud and honored to bring AT&T 5G and other highly innovative commercial networking-as-a-service capabilities to the Air Force,” said Anne Chow, chief executive officer of AT&T Business. “We are helping the Air Force optimize the value of our 5G and other networking capabilities at these 3 bases and stand ready to work with them to extend these services across the entirety of the Air Force if they so choose.”

The Air Force made the award using so-called Other Transaction Agreements under its Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS) program, which aims to increase network speeds and modernize IT infrastructure at the service’s bases to support multi-domain operations.

According to the news release, AT&T 5G and networking-as-a-service capabilities will be able to support the Air Force’s efforts on Internet of Things devices and power everything from augmented and virtual reality, robotics, drones and network edge storage and computing.

“We think it is vital to test commercially provided services like 5G and software-based networking-as-a-service capabilities as we explore ways to help us innovate and improve our global air, space and cyber readiness,” said Col. Justin K. Collins, deputy of the Air Force’s enterprise IT & cyber infrastructure division. “We expect 5G service will help us improve the user experience and support a broad array of use cases that can enhance mission effectiveness.”

AT&T is also providing Base Area Network, Wide Area Network, telephony, internet access and highly secure interoperability with legacy systems at the three bases.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is also expected to award 5G contracts to service providers later this year at military bases across the United States. At least one of the bases, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, has decided on a vendor but has not announced the winner publicly.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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