US government employees can start buying 5G services and equipment, according to the head of the government agency in charge of supplying $54 billion worth of IT products to US government offices.
Bill Zielinski, acting assistant commissioner of GSA's office of information technology category, outlined the basics of 5G technology in a blog post on the agency's website. "Because it enables the IoT, 5G is one of the more important emerging technologies," he wrote. "Thanks to 5G's flexibility, every level of government will use 5G as IoT enters the public sector."
Interestingly, Zielinski said 5G can support multiple government applications, including replacing outdated telecommunications and network technology in public buildings and supporting augmented and virtual reality in national laboratories.
"We are uniquely positioned to fulfill our customers' needs and help prepare for 5G implementation," Zielinski wrote of the GSA, adding the 5G services and infrastructure are already covered under several of the agency's purchasing programs.
Zielinski admitted that it's still early days for 5G. He said the GSA is preparing a white paper outlining how 5G can be implemented by government agencies across the country. He also said the GSA will host a 5G "customer event" where the agency will outline how concepts -- including network slicing and edge computing -- will work.
GSA officials declined to respond to several questions from Light Reading, including whether any government agencies have already purchased any 5G services and equipment.
Why this matters
Federal and state government agencies are of course major customers of telecommunications services. And operators including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint already participate in the GSA's various purchasing programs for telecommunications and IT services.
However, US wireless network operators are just a few months into their 5G network rollouts, and many expect that it could take up to ten years for operators to fully deploy 5G on a nationwide scale, with all the bells and whistles that the 5G standards are expected to support.
That said, the Trump administration has positioned 5G as a national priority, so it's not surprising that the government's IT purchasing agency is looking to pave the way for federal and state officials to begin purchasing 5G equipment and services (though not from any Chinese vendors).