Air Force, AT&T building ‘smart base of the future’ out of devastated Florida installation

A pilot from the 27th fighter Squadron, Langley, Virginia, prepares to fly an F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, following Hurricane Michael, October 24, 2018. (U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Kelly Walker)

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As the Air Force rebuilds a Florida base leveled by Hurricane Michael last year, AT&T is hoping to help the installation start from scratch with modernized IT and 5G wireless services that will go live early next year.

AT&T announced Thursday that Tyndall Air Force Base, which suffered extreme structural damage from Category 5 winds in October 2018, will get 5G service sometime in early 2020 under a contract the service awarded it in September. Work is to be completed by Sept. 25, 2020, according to the award.

The $23.6 million project will support “augmented and virtual reality, IoT, and a broad array of innovative technologies” at the base in Florida’s Panhandle, according to an AT&T release. Hurricane recovery at the facility will take about $3 billion overall, reports have said.

In addition to building out Tyndall’s 5G infrastructure, AT&T will also deliver modernized commercial IT capabilities, to include “mobility, cloud access, unified communications, voice, broadband, Wi-Fi expansion and an array of connected devices,” and manage network operations, such as compute, storage and “edge capabilities,” AT&T said.

“The Air Force and AT&T share a vision for the smart base of the future: one that uses modern, commercially available communications capabilities to help our military maintain its globally competitive edge in defending our freedoms,” Xavier Williams, president of AT&T Global Public Sector, said in a statement.

Tyndall joins the ranks of many Air Force bases that are poised to get a 5G makeover. Service CTO Frank Konieczny recently said the Air Force has already built-out 5G at 10 bases with plans for 16 or 17 more next fiscal year, in part, to keep pace with increasingly intelligent planes.

Likewise, the Department of Defense is exploring the use of 5G with plans to set up experimental test sites at military bases to prototype 5G wireless technologies. The department recently announced Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Naval Base San Diego; and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, as the first test sites

Through the new partnership, AT&T will also equip first responders at Tyndall with its emergency response services under FirstNet.

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5G, Air Force, AT&T, Department of Defense (DOD), mobile and wireless, telecommunications, Tyndall Air Force Base
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