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Amazon, GDIT and Others Band Together for Better 5G Gov Tech

A General Dynamics-backed coalition that also includes other major tech players wants to develop 5G-powered tools for state and local agencies. Government use cases for 5G continue to expand but challenges abound.

Some of the biggest players in tech have joined a General Dynamics-backed coalition meant to promote and “accelerate” the use of 5G tools across public agencies, including those at the state and local levels.

The group includes General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) — a business unit of General Dynamics — and Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Splunk and T-Mobile.

The group is called the GDIT 5G and Edge Accelerator Coalition.

"We share a common vision of how 5G, edge and advanced wireless technologies can transform government operations," Ben Gianni, senior vice president and chief technology officer at GDIT, said in a statement. "Forming this coalition will help us bring our collective strengths together to provide technical differentiation and the most beneficial solutions for our government customers."

In that statement, GDIT said that the coalition will leverage the company's Advanced Wireless Emerge Lab to find use cases and create prototypes and solutions to bring down the time and cost of 5G.

They aim to develop ways to support “federal, state and local agencies' unique mission requirements from the enterprise to the edge in a wide variety of applications, including military, logistics and supply chain, health care, education and smart infrastructure.”

5G technology and its relatively quick communication speeds promise not only to help create so-called smart cities — dependent on sensors and other interconnected hardware and software — but fuel gov tech tools designed for public safety, infrastructure, education and other core functions of public agencies, according to 5G operators, backers and other observers.

Health care, too, could benefit from 5G, including in the further use of telemedicine.

The big attraction is the quickness of 5G, with telecommunications firms promising connection speeds that are 10 times faster than today, as a recent Bloomberg article pointed out. That same news report, however, noted that reality has yet to catch up with expectations — a common lament, of course, when it comes to the shiniest new toys in the tech space.

Bloomberg reported that “the three big U.S. carriers have spent more than $100 billion on 5G airwaves and network upgrades, but they have little to no revenue or major new businesses to show for it. Moreover, the arrival of the technology has gone largely unnoticed by consumers, and the future fortunes the industry is banking on are far from certain.”

Even so, as some residents resist 5G deployments — concerns include potential health problems, eyesores and other issues — some state and local governments have tried to clear a path for more 5G use as carriers try to get ahead of the curve via well-publicized installations aimed at consumers.

Meanwhile, 5G backers continue to come up with government-focused use cases.

For instance, Oracle is touting “a prototype police vehicle outfitted with IoT-enabled solutions designed to show the possibilities for the future of law enforcement and public safety.” T-Mobile says 5G powers another project, funded through the CARES Act meant to increase food resiliency as climate change looms, an effort that involves a partnership with Snohomish County, Wash.

As for this new coalition, its members intend to “design, deploy and maintain” end-to-end 5G tools, with the cloud infrastructure coming from Amazon — its AWS unit aims to become a larger player in gov tech as more agencies embrace the use of the cloud to bring down costs, increase cybersecurity and generally expand access to digital services.

Cisco will provide what the statement calls “5G core and mobile edge computing capabilities that enable data processing.” Dell Technologies has responsibility for open infrastructure and edge operations software, along with “artificial intelligence-enhanced edge devices and sensors.” Splunk offers “cybersecurity automation and edge computing capabilities.” T-Mobile will provide “network bandwidth, expertise and advanced industry solutions to address large use cases such as smart infrastructure.”