At the DSTA Academy Technology Talk on 30 November 2020, experts from around the world shared their thoughts about 5G’s evolution, as well as its potential uses and applications in the defence industry and beyond.
Starting the session, Dr Krishna Balachandran, Director at Nokia Bell Labs, USA, shared that 5G wireless networks have the potential to improve safety, productivity and efficiency in military operations by enhancing situational awareness. Illustrating his point, he cited augmented cognition and control, human augmentation, massive-scale sensing and extreme robotic automation as examples of 5G-enabled technologies applied to military operations.
Mr Raymond Soh, Vice President of Network Solutions at Ericsson Telecommunications Singapore, then explained briefly how 5G compares to 4G. 5G is often said to be 10 to 100 times faster, enables up to 1,000 times more connections, and is more energy efficient, relatively cheaper, and can be applied to many diverse industries.
In the defence sector, 5G technology has many potential use cases. It can enhance connection between soldiers (e.g. using video calls and wearables), soldier to machine (e.g. health monitoring, smart camps and bases), as well as machine to machine (e.g. ship to ship communication and depot automation).
The audience also heard from Dr Chang Yong, Vice President and Group Leader of the B2B B2G Group, Samsung Electronics Korea, about how 5G could be applied across industries to transform lives and societies.
As one of the early adopters of 5G technology, South Korea has about 121,000 5G base stations by July 2020, along with up to 1,275 5G-enabled facilities such as bus terminals and convention centres. These initial 5G services focus mainly on content requiring high data rates, including the streaming of ultra-high definition movies and baseball matches with motion tracking, as well as programmes that make use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
With the rapid acceleration and evolution of 5G technology, Mr Takehiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and General Manager of 6G Laboratories, NTT Docomo Japan, spoke about how 5G will play an important role in the creation of new values and providing solutions to social issues moving forward.
Since NTT Docomo’s introduction of its 5G services in March 2020, the performance has been steadily improving and over 430 potential use cases have been created with some 3,500 partners in various industries. These include work style reform, industrial sophistication, smart city/nation functions, as well as those in healthcare and education sectors.
Speaking from an IT and telecommunications perspective, Mr Didier Wylomanski, Business Development Director, Cloud Protecting and Licensing of Thales, France, emphasised the importance of conducting risk assessments and putting in place data protection strategies before deploying 5G technologies.
Data in 5G are exposed to many risks as more critical data are stored and shared among more devices and the cloud. As such, it is crucial to ensure data security strategies are in place.
Mr Wylomanski illustrated a four-step approach to data security. The first step is about data discovery, which allows the company to discover and classify targeted sensitive data across the environment, followed by protecting data by putting in place authentication and encryption for all data in the systems across all sites in the 5G network. Thereafter, life cycle management and secure storage of encryption keys would need to be centralised. The final step involves the monitoring of data access allowing the separation of duties and audit trails.
The final speaker was Mr Arnd Sibila, Technology Marketing Manager from Rohde & Schwarz, Germany, who gave a brief overview of private 5G networks. He noted that requirements for different use cases often differ, even within the same industry. For instance, in terms of the military, different use cases such as AR/VR mission training and 5G communication on and off the battlefield would have very different requirements in terms of latency, availability and data rate.
He then described the test phases for the deployment of a private 5G campus network, which is an exclusive mobile network accessible only for people or devices in a certain area or building. A high-quality campus network would need a clean radio frequency environment, properly installed network infrastructure, and coverage and performance analyses for network optimisation. All that are then followed by continuous performance monitoring and data collection, which are key to identifying trends and detecting anomalies.
All photos used in this article are provided by the respective speakers.