DOD gives $2.5B to consortium to develop 5G tech prototypes

The idea behind the consortium is that the money will get to companies and academic partners faster than the DOD could do on its own.

The Department of Defense has awarded a $2.5 billion Other Transaction Agreement to a consortium of nearly 400 companies and academic institutions to prototype dual-use technologies that use the electromagnetic spectrum.

The National Spectrum Consortium will have five years to disburse the money to its members, according to a press release announcing the deal. The goal is to promote novel uses of 5G telecommunications technology — including internet of things management, cloud computing, augmented reality and big-data processing tools. The contract is called the Spectrum Forward OTA.

The idea behind the consortium is that the money will get to companies and academic partners faster than the DOD could do on its own.

“An Other Transaction Agreement is the most effective method to encourage rapid prototyping in the US Government,” Tony Melita, executive director of the National Spectrum Consortium, said in the release. ​“By bringing industry, academia and the government together, the NSC will tackle the toughest spectrum-related technological challenges facing our nation and the world.”


This is not the first award to the consortium from the DOD. Earlier this year, it received contracts to help work on some of the “5G test beds” the DOD is building, according to the consortium. The test beds are agreements with telecommunications companies that allow them to use military bases to trial new 5G technology. The DOD hopes that by providing space that has fewer regulations on 5G testing, companies can hasten development of the tech. The military also wins by getting to use successful 5G connections to modernize base operations.

“Now, as 5G takes hold, we need to invest in the development of a new wave of capabilities that will once again redefine the technology landscape,” said Sal D’Itri, chairman of the NSC.

5G promises to deliver ultra-fast communications with huge bandwidth, opening many new possibilities for technology to share data quickly, with both civilian and military applications.

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