When people hear “5G” they typically think of their phones, but there’s a whole world of private 5G use cases across the federal government. As examples, the Department of Veterans Affairs is using 5G to access and examine MRI images and then is using them to perform safer surgeries. 5G is also foundational to achieving the goals of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) with its focus of gathering all edge sensor information and connecting all warfighters across all commands and across all services. Further, artificial intelligence and analytics can analyze data from devices like these and others at the edge.
Given the prevalence of 5G use cases – and its immense potential for the federal government as a whole – GDIT has focused intently on a holistic 5G strategy the includes policies, standards, and spectrum management guidelines that enable us to not only harness 5G’s potential for customers, but to look ahead to 6G and beyond. We identify the right solutions based on an understanding of the customer’s needs and their specific use case – which doesn’t always include 5G. For example, in working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, we actually recommended they upgrade to WiFi 6, rather than 5G, because we knew that’s what would meet their specific needs.
Developing Sound 5G Policies
For starters, industry must work with regulatory entities to ensure a thoughtful and unified approach to policy issues that can impede progress. As an example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acknowledges that there must be updates to infrastructure policy to encourage investment in 5G networks and to streamline the state and local approval processes so that unnecessary delays aren’t introduced.
GDIT has more than 30 years of advanced wireless expertise, to include our collaborative work with commercial vendors. As a systems integrator, we are ideally positioned to help assess, engineer, implement and operate mission-enhancing, 5G-enabled edge solutions, and to work with regulators to ensure compliance and the timely deployment of capabilities.
Innovation & Standardization to Facilitate Progress
Innovation and standardization, to include open platform designs rather than proprietary ones, are also essential. A large and diverse universe of 5G solutions and approaches presents the risk of paralyzing the industry, inhibiting progress, and limiting the scalability of these solutions. Standard open platform designs enable component interoperability and seamless integration of solutions and devices.
With this understanding, GDIT developed a modular 5G capability that can scale and adjust to meet mission-focused edge solution requirements. We continue to leverage an open standardized platform within our 5G stack, as well as the holistic 5G-enabled edge solutions we create for customers. In doing so, GDIT ensures seamless integration with the broader enterprise and utilizes zero trust architectures – which address lateral threat movement within a network by leveraging security perimeters based on users and locations - to drive efficiency and security as well. Finally, we are configuring our new 5G Emerge Lab in such a way that it leverages the latest equipment and adheres to the open platform standards. Here, we can facilitate rapid solution validation, customer demonstrations and edge solution development.
Creating People-Centric 5G Solutions
A third and possibly the biggest challenge, is ensuring that 5G solutions are people-centric and look at the specific use case and its requirements alongside the needs of the individual users of the solution. As an example, while the 5G applicability across a military base is very similar to the 5G enhancements to large campuses or residential communities, the users, the required security profile, and the related devices and sensors will be very different and need to be factored into the final solution design.
When developing solutions around our own 5G stack, GDIT takes an outside-in approach that starts with the mission objectives and required outcomes as well as the people using the solution itself so that we can ensure we engineer optimal outcomes and, ultimately, optimal value for our customer.
Without question, 5G is becoming a reality and will mature significantly over the next several months in both commercial and private applications billions of dollars are invested in this space. To fully realize the potential of 5G, collaboration from vendors – even those that compete against one another – is required. This is why we are building a best-of-breed, multi-vendor 5G Edge coalition to develop and deliver comprehensive solutions. The lessons we learn, the approaches we build, and the investments we make to deploy 5G capabilities will enable us to act quickly to adopt 6G – and the generations that will follow.
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