The Federal government has increased its adoption of 5G wireless technologies to enable agencies to receive and transmit a growing volume of data faster than ever before, government officials said this week.

Several Federal officials addressed how their agencies are utilizing 5G capabilities, and the steps they are taking to ensure that the data handled by their 5G tech remains protected and secure.

“We’re laying the foundation to fully take advantage of 5G,” Rob Beutel, the deputy chief technology officer for the Department of the Air Force, said during a May 31 FederalNewsNetwork webinar.

“We have efforts such as our zero trust efforts that will allow us to fully take advantage of the commercial 5G capability so that we’re not reliant on private 5G networks, which create additional stovepipes and additional expense that we’d like to try to avoid,” he stated.

According to Beutel, the next couple of years for the Air Force will see some significant moves forward in laying the necessary foundation to move forward in realizing the benefits of 5G, and acquiring 5G for specific use cases.

Thomas Osborne, executive director of the Convergence Center at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said that the center is an example of offering a full spectrum of 5G capabilities and building out the right infrastructure.

“Our team’s mission, our purpose is to provide the best, most advanced health care possible for our veterans and to really lean forward. So, a little over three years ago, we became the first 5G VA,” said Osborne.

Among the long list of 5G capabilities, the center has optimized for a variety of use cases including the use of advanced augmented reality for holographic teaching and training of medical staff, a pilot project in the use of 3D X-ray vision to aid in surgeries, and a new drone program enabled with 5G technology.

As the office charged with providing a marketplace for the government to meet its enterprise IT and telecommunications needs, the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Information Technology Category has the largest government program for commercial cellular servers.

“We try to keep current with the technology and the use cases for 5G, and the challenges in the marketplace, and then we use that knowledge to make it easier for agencies to procure their needed services,” said Kevin Gallo, the director for Technical Account Management of Information Technology Category at GSA. “5G is one of our top technology focus areas.”

On the acquisition front, GSA has revamped and expanded its wireless mobility solutions and multiple award schedule. It has also defined new subcategories and added providers and services. The agency has also updated its mobility services including those related to 5G under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract, a comprehensive solution-based vehicle to address all aspects of Federal agency IT telecommunications, and infrastructure requirements.

“Earlier this year, we published the acquisition guidance to procure 5G technology. So, that was an outgrowth of our role with a national strategy to secure 5G,” Gallo said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.