As the US continues to attempt to guide countries away from Chinese tech giant Huawei’s 5G services, Esper informed the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the Pentagon will attempt to invest in its own 5G technology and begin the process of testing and experimentation.
“DOD is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to set up prototypes at four of our bases around the country where we can invite companies in to test, because we would benefit from 5G,” Esper said, as reported by Defense One.
However, one major topic of contention that will be present when it comes to 5G will be spectrum usage. While the mid-band waves have been occupied in the US by government agencies - particularly the US military and its weapons systems - the defense secretary told the committee that they would be willing to share the spectrum.
“Private sector wants that. We need that,” said Esper, referencing the mid-band range, according to C4ISRNET. "We’re willing to share it. The technology exists, I’m told, to do that. I think that’s the best way to move forward so we can meet the economic priority with the national security priority.”
According to the outlet, the US military’s Airborne Warning And Control System, parts of the Aegis defense system and a number of other systems of the US armed forces operate between the 3100 and 3350 MHz airwaves.
Speaking to Politico in a recent interview, Obama-era Defense Secretary Ash Carter argued that the Pentagon “needs to defend vigorously the parts of the spectrum that it really needs,” because it’s difficult to know when the military may need the mid-band.
“Once you give them away,” he warned, “you’ll never get them back.”
During his first state trip to India earlier this week, US President Donald Trump told the media that he had cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on turning to China and Huawei for 5G infrastructure.
“We discussed the importance of secure 5G wireless networks and the need for this emerging technology to be a tool for freedom, progress, prosperity; not to do anything where it could be conceived as a conduit for suppression and censorship,” the US president told reporters.