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Collaboration key to developing 5G capabilities at JBSA experimentation site

  • Published
  • By Lori A. Bultman
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Two years ago this month, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering selected Joint Base San Antonio as one of several installations where experimentation and testing of fifth-generation, or 5G, communications technology would take place. In the time since, great advances have been made toward developing 5G augmented reality support for telemedicine and medical training, and in 5G cyber security, at America’s largest joint base.  

“The development of 5G capabilities is critical to the nation and will have a profound effect on military functions, as well as contributing greatly to American businesses, industries, and citizens,” said Michael “Apollo” Lovell, executive director of the JBSA-Electromagnetic Defense Initiative, or JBSA-EDI, and leader of the San Antonio-Electromagnetic Defense, or SA-EMD, collaborative. 

“The Department of Defense medical community views 5G technological advancements as a game‐changer for saving lives at the forefront of the medical support arena, said Dr. Paul Young, executive telemedicine investigator with JBSA’s 5G program. “They are excited to see 5G-enabled technology applied through experiments, programs, prototypes, and use cases. 

“The potential to have accessible, secure, and untethered capabilities will allow optimal medical care globally and, when applied at the operation edge, will provide real‐time medical expertise and critical life‐saving treatment at the point of care,” he said.  

An astounding achievement for the 5G site's medical steering committee, which Young leads, was bringing together over 150 medical personnel from across all branches of the U.S. military to work together harnessing 5G for medical use.  

“5G offers the potential to maintain medical support skillsets while at home or abroad, in remote or austere environments,” Young said. “This innovation is a game-changer for training and maintaining military medical personnel in any service at any location.  

“The use of 5G can also expedite the exchange of visual, sensory, auditory, and haptic control to decrease provider workloads through 5G's capability, handling massive data volumes with high‐performance communications and ultra‐low latencies between edge computing systems, medical Internet of Medical Things, and human‐computer interface devices,” he said.  

In addition to medical training, 5G experimentation is leading the way in Pilot Training Next, or PTN.  

Objective one of this program is in direct support of Air Education and Training Command’s initiative - Re-imagine how the Air Force delivers learning to Airmen. 

Nineteenth Air Force, through its Detachment 24, will utilize 5G technology to train future pilots faster due to the development of 5G core prototypes that will untether augmented reality-enabled pilot training flight simulators to make training available locally and remotely. 

A big part of what makes OUSD’s 5G site at JBSA work so well is the vast collaboration taking place between military, academia, industry, local government, and other partners.  

"San Antonio and Joint Base San Antonio have a rich history of collaboration,” Lovell said. “The JBSA 5G Working Group has over 120 members, and meets to collaborate on making the vision, goals, and objectives curated by the steering committee reality.”  

As JBSA’s 5G experimentation site continues to grow, Lovell said he feels the team will continue to see large-scale experimentation and prototyping results that will provide a means to accelerate 5G technology, vastly advancing warfighter capabilities. 

“With 5G technology, we can help create a smarter, safer, and more sustainable connectivity that takes us well into the future for collaborative operations and automation,” he said.    

The next public SA-EMD meeting, which will include updates on JBSA’s 5G site, will be held June 10. If interested in attending in person or virtually, email for details. 

For more information on JBSA-EDI or the JBSA 5G program, go to