If the U.S. military introduced a fifth generation network in to its C4ISR systems, decision-making in high profile military operations would improve because critical information would arrive faster, according to a Jan. 31 Congressional Research Service report.

Today, leaders often rely on satellites for long-distance communications, which can cause the information to be delayed and, consequently, slow the decisionmaking process in tactical operations, the report found. With 5G technologies, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems would process and disseminate information from battlespace sensors and rely the information immediately.

The Department of Defense is expected to test 5G applications at four military bases this year, according to a November solicitation. The bases, located in Georgia, Utah, Washington and California, would experiment with smart warehouses, augmented and virtual reality in training scenarios and the optimization of wireless communication channels.

The military 5G upgrade would also enable drones to autonomously carry out coordinated missions or tasks by increasing the speed of data transfer between operators and self-driving vehicles, according to the report.

The United States’ primary competitors in this space are Chinese companies such as Huawei, which works as a global 5G supplier to many nations, including U.S. allies. The United Kingdom recently allowed Huawei to build part of its 5G network despite U.S. opposition.

In December, the State Department supported a European Union Council plan that highlighted security risks to 5G networks built by Chinese companies, and urged its partners to deny “untrusted vendors” from accessing their future 5G networks, according to a statement from the council.

The Congressional Research Service report highlighted potential issues for Congress with the development of 5G, including national security risks from those allies who are involved with Chinese 5G infrastructure and whether the U.S. should limit intelligence sharing with countries such as the United Kingdom who operate Chinese-supplied 5G equipment to avoid the risks of cyberattacks or military espionage.

Chiara Vercellone is a reporter interning with Defense News, C4ISRNET and Fifth Domain Cyber

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