Verizon was picked to deliver its 5G Ultra Wideband service, including C-band, at seven Air Force installations under a new contract from the Department of Defense.
Verizon already secured wins in 2019 under the government’s Offer to Lease (OTL) program to boost wireless service at 10 Air Force bases. That includes a 5G deployment at the Tyndall Airforce Base in Florida.
A Verizon spokesperson explained that through the OTL program, the Air Force encourages providers to sublease so that carriers have a chance to increase coverage as much as possible.
The latest OTL was issued in April and brings Verizon’s relationship with the Air Force for 5G and wireless services to 17 installations. With the new award, 5G is slated for Air Force Reserve Command (ARFC) installations at locations in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Each facility is getting outdoor C-band radios deployed to deliver 5G service, both for personnel on the base and to serve the surrounding community. There will also be a mix of 4G and 5G millimeter wave frequency indoors at certain locations, the Verizon spokesperson said. Together the network services are expected to significantly enhance coverage across the deployments, deliver faster speeds, increased bandwidth and lower latency.
For equipment, the carrier is using its previously announced 5G radio access network (RAN) vendors, which include Ericsson and Samsung.
Verizon plans to start deploying its first batch of C-band spectrum for 5G when it becomes available later this year, expecting to add between 7,000-8,000 new sites to its network. Its millimeter wave-based 5G service, which uses the “Ultra Wideband” moniker, is currently available to consumers in parts of 82 cities.
In earlier work with the U.S. Marine Corps and Qualcomm, Verizon helped create a 5G Living Lab at Miramar in San Diego. The lab in California was designed with small cells and mmWave service.
Verizon said the Air Force is looking to support a range of new applications as the U.S. military digitizes operations. It’s tapping technologies for things like animated simulation and training; full-motion HD video to support telemedicine for airmen; and ultra-fast AI for biometric identification.
“Serving as an indispensable partner to the military and their strategic digital transformation objectives is one of our highest priorities,” said Jennifer Chronis, SVP for Public Sector at Verizon, in a statement. “Air Force leadership describes their modernization as a transition from an industrial-age force to an information-age force and Verizon Public Sector is their partner in that journey, providing a 5G network with the right technology solutions to meet their needs today, and into the future.”
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Chronis, a U.S. Army veteran with former roles at AWS and IBM, was chosen to head up Verizon’s public sector earlier this year. In April she talked to Fierce about opportunities for growth and called out the carrier’s acquisition of mid-band 3.7 GHz spectrum at the C-band auction as helping efforts in the segment, along with the expectation of mobile edge compute adoption to “really take off in the federal and public sector.”