US operator AT&T put its private 5G network through its paces during demonstrations with the US Navy to prove the potential of low latency, high throughput smart warehouse services.

The demonstrations were conducted at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego. The US Department of Defense is exploring the use of smart warehouses by using 5G for shipments between shore facilities and naval units, among other use cases.

The trials were one element of the Department of Defense’s $500 million initiative that was announced in 2020 for using 5G across five military test sites.

The goal of the San Diego demonstrations was to increase the efficiency of naval logistics including identification, recording, organisation, storage, retrieval and the transportation of supplies by using AT&T’s private RAN.

Lance Spencer, Client Executive Vice President – Defense, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet, stated to Mobile World Live (MWL) the demonstrations combined AT&T spectrum, RAN, transport, private core, multiple operator core network (MOCN), roaming capabilities and cybersecurity that included zero trust architecture.

The private 5G network at the base delivered throughput speeds of 3.9 Gb/s with less than 10 milliseconds of latency.

The demonstrations included 5G-enabled virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) capabilities to support military training, operations, and maintenance as well as prototyping applications.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies were also used to connect a cloud to the network edge for high throughput and low latency capabilities.

Use cases
One of the use cases included a model to showcase real-time recognition and classification of different parts that were placed on a moving conveyor belt.

Another demonstration used 5G and AR to support a hands-free device for a “put/pick” service to reduce processing times in a warehouse.

AT&T’s 5G network would also enable the Department of Defense to scale its 5G-enabled warehouse technology while supporting global access to its users via the mobile operators’ roaming capabilities.

While the smart warehouse services and applications would boost the Department of Defense’s warfighting capabilities they also serve as a means for AT&T to monetise the investments it has made in its 5G network.

Spencer said an applications vendor and a vendor-provided cloud solution were used in the the demonstrations, but he declined to say who they were.

He also stated to MWL that it was too early to say when, or if, the smart warehouse solutions would be deployed at scale by the Department of Defense.