Hughes Network Systems secured an $18 million contract today from the Department of Defense (DoD) to deploy a standalone 5G network at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state. Hughes will be the primary contractor connecting the base with a secure 5G network to support operations, maintenance and flight traffic management.

Dish Wireless will be the sole provider of low-band, mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum to Hughes’ 5G network. The contract is expected to last three years with Dish offering Hughes engineering services, support and access to its spectrum portfolio. 

“As we build our own network, we’re proud to team with Hughes in this important project to deliver a fast, secure, reliable network to serve the U.S. Department of Defense and support mission-critical functions,” said Stephen Bye, chief commercial officer at Dish, in a statement. 

Dish is preparing to roll out 5G services on its own new wireless network to 25 major U.S. markets by mid-year.

The Hughes contract is part of the DoD’s ongoing initiative for 5G experimentation. The DoD established in March a 5G and FutureG cross-functional team, which will carry out DoD research and development as well as coordinate outreach with industry and interagency partners.

Hughes will use the $18 million to offer the military an “any-network approach that’s hardware agnostic and transport independent,” said Rick Lober, VP and general manager of Hughes Defense.

“We look forward to showcasing our capabilities in secure management of a 5G standalone deployment with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning for ongoing enhancement and increasing efficiencies,” he said.

Hughes’ 5G infrastructure, which includes a packet processing core, radio access, edge cloud, security and network management, can “power the resilient networking necessary to transform base operations,” said Dr. Rajeev Gopal, VP of Advanced Programs at Hughes. The network will provide open RAN standards of flexibility and allow seamless low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite connectivity.

“Today’s walkie-talkies, paper-trails and telephone conversations will be replaced with a private, secure 5G network over which air station processes and systems will be automated and continuously optimized,” Gopal said.

Hughes’ fleet of high-throughput satellites is powered by its Jupiter System. The provider offers Gen5 high-speed satellite internet across the Americas as well as managed network services that employ a mix of satellite and terrestrial technologies.

Hughes is also a primary investor in OneWeb, a London-based satellite communications provider. The companies signed a contract in 2017 to jointly develop a ground network system supporting OneWeb’s LEO satellites.

Hughes has also procured contracts this year from the Texas Department of Information Resources and BurgerFi, a casual restaurant chain, to provide managed telecommunications services.

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