DoD starting private 5G network project to support smart warehouse applications

The initiative at the Marine Corps Logistics Command will enable warehouse robotics, barcode scanning, and holographic, augmented, and virtual reality applications.

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Image: Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

The Marine Corps Logistics Command warehouse in Albany, Ga., under the US Department of Defense, is deploying a private 5G wireless network that will modernize its operations and increase efficiencies.

Private network provider Federated Wireless said it was spearheading the multiyear initiative with a team of US-based partners including AWS, Cisco, JMA, Vectrus, Perspecta Labs, and Capstone Partners.

The trial is designed to update the warehouse and enable a broad set of smart use cases, including warehouse robotics, barcode scanning, and holographic, augmented, and virtual reality applications, according to Federated Wireless.

The project will create a 5G smart warehouse that will provide improvements to receipt, storage, issuance, inventory control, and auditability of material and supplies that directly support Marine Corps global operations, Federated Wireless said.

"Private 5G wireless networks are well-positioned to meet the connectivity and communications needs of a wide range of industries, including energy, manufacturing, transportation, and others, all of whom depend on fast, reliable, scalable wireless solutions," said Kyung Mun, principal analyst at Mobile Experts, in a statement. "The DoD has long led the way in adoption and optimization of cutting-edge technologies like [Citizens Broadband Radio Service] CBRS."

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The experiences and benefits that are derived from this deployment "will serve as a beacon for others working to adopt and deploy shared spectrum at scale," Mun added.

5G private wireless network will use open source tech

The end-to-end network will support industrial IoT using the latest open source technology including Open RAN, virtualized radio access network, virtualized 5G packet core, and mobile edge compute, according to Federated Wireless. The project will leverage CBRS shared spectrum along with millimeter-wave spectrum to create a robust 5G private wireless network.

The smart warehousing deployment uses Cisco's Zero Trust Architecture that consists of virtualized 5G and 4G packet core servers, mobile edge processing, and fronthaul and backhaul switching infrastructure, the company said.

Federated Wireless partner JMA is providing a full end-to-end RAN platform using XRAN–its all software RAN platform–for both the 4G and 5G networks, including advanced millimeter-wave radios.

The software gives the base's network a level of flexibility and makes software upgrades more streamlined, Federated Wireless said.

Partners Vectrus and Perspecta Labs are helping to ensure that security and risk management have been designed into the system. Vectrus, a DoD partner for logistics and warehouse modernization, is completing an end-end risk assessment of the system and Perspecta Labs is conducting an end-end security assessment, according to Federated Wireless.

IKIN, a provider of high-resolution 3-D visual technology, is deploying holographic capabilities for locating, identifying, and retrieving materials without having to move or open packaging.

"This is one of the first of several forward-leaning projects that we and our partners are engaged in with the US government, all designed to accelerate the nation's 5G trajectory," said Sal D'Itri, vice president and general manager of the federal business unit for Federated Wireless, in a statement.

The DoD is often referred to as the "first Enterprise," and it "is leading the way for 5G innovation to help stimulate market growth, helping to realize the extensive promises of 5G private networks for work, education, recreation, and communication," added D'Itri, who is also the chairman of the National Spectrum Consortium.

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