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September 25, 2019

Lab Focuses on 5G Tech Capabilities for Tactical, First Responders

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On Oct. 7, APL is teaming up with IEEE to host the second annual Workshop on 5G Technologies for Tactical and First Responder Networks.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is teaming up with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) next month to host the second annual Workshop on 5G Technologies for Tactical and First Responder Networks. The workshop will focus on the technical impacts of 5G on government applications and — the organizers hope — serve as a catalyst to help define government use cases, drive standards, and investigate deployments suitable for tactical and first responder networks.

Also known as fifth-generation wireless, 5G is the latest cellular technology, and offers significant improvement in data speed, capacity and latency (delay in data transfer) over today’s fourth-generation (4G) networks, primarily based on LTE. But it’s also a lot more, says conference organizer Ashutosh Dutta, a senior wireless communication systems research scientist at APL.

“When fully realized, 5G technology will provide massive machine-type communication for the Internet of Things (IoT); it will also be the foundation for a dizzying array of life-changing amenities, including eHealth, self-driving cars, so-called smart cities, virtual and augmented reality, and even battlefield networks,” said Dutta, also the co-chair for IEEE Future Networks and co-author of “Mobility Protocols and Handover Optimization,” published by IEEE and Wiley.

Organizations such as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project and the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance are already expanding 5G use cases to address new industries that go beyond enhanced mobile broadband. Meanwhile, APL’s Dutta and IEEE have their sights set on ways to leverage the promise of 5G to assist tactical users and first responders.

5G Importance and Versatility

The spectrum used for mobile communications has become overcrowded, and as a result, mobile network operators are struggling to keep up with the explosive demand for mobile data from the consumer market. This problem is compounded during emergencies, when everyone tends to try to call their loved ones and access the cellular network at the same time. The resulting congestion can be a major problem for first responders aiding in an emergency. As the demand for data keeps growing, industries and consumers will rely on 5G networks.

5G also has potential national security benefits, Dutta explained. “For example, on the battlefield, soldiers are constantly moving around and need to communicate with one another,” he said. “The challenge is to keep the communication seamless; they need the right information at the right time. Providing the right quality of service and end-user experience is important.”

Lab Expertise and Capabilities

APL has broad and deep expertise in wireless technologies, spanning from 2G to 5G cellular generations, as well as wireless local area networks, wireless personal area networks, satellite communications, wireless IoT, and wireless tactical networks. The Lab is also developing a world-class 5G cellular test laboratory with industry-leading vendor equipment and open-source platforms to complement the existing breadth of 4G to 2G cellular lab capabilities.

“Our 5G initiatives build on a long history of cellular work at APL,” said the Lab’s Jared Everett, a senior wireless communications research engineer and co-author of “Wireless Networking: Understanding Internetworking Challenges.” “We have had 2G, 3G and 4G test capabilities in-house for years to address a variety of sponsor needs.”

The Lab leverages its wireless expertise and facilities to support all branches of the Department of Defense, tactical and special users, first responders and public safety, homeland security, senior leaders, the intelligence community and satellite communications. Technical activities include concept development, analysis, modeling and simulation, prototyping, laboratory and field testing, and serving as a trusted agent.

“The 5G Summit will give tactical and first responder communities an opportunity to dive into the uses and potential applications of 5G in the emergency preparedness, national security and defense space,” Dutta said.

The Summit will be held on Monday, Oct. 7, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a networking reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the Kossiakoff Center on APL’s campus. Register by Friday, Sept. 27. View the registration page for more information.

Media contact: Khadija Elkharbibi, 240-228-9118, Khadija.Elkharbibi@jhuapl.edu

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.