The federal government is often criticized for not taking full advantage of current technology, but that is definitely not the case when it comes to 4G. We are seeing a wave of interest in high-speed wireless 4G among federal agencies, especially with 4G coming soon to the nation’s capital as Sprint continues to roll out new markets.
The pace of adoption even spurred Sprint to issue a September 1 news announcement about the growing interest in 4G at the federal level. But this really shouldn’t come as that big a surprise. 4G is incredibly easy to implement, with minimal startup costs, so it doesn’t crush technology budgets, and it makes it so much easier to work from anywhere. With many federal employees doing most or all of their work in the field, the speed and capacity increases offered by 4G have a lot of appeal.
When you contrast the ability to quickly move to 4G, with devices such as the HTC EVO 4G or the Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot, with a massive hardware or software upgrade in an agency, you can see the difference. Rolling out a major new application, or a new hardware platform, across an entire agency is a huge undertaking, requiring months of planning and affecting just about every single employee. It’s easy to understand why agencies move slowly when it comes to that type of change.
But 4G? It’s a snap. Outfit 10 or 100 or 1,000 mobile employees with a 4G device, and you immediately begin reaping the benefits. That’s why we’re seeing all types of agencies taking advantage of 4G, which is now available in nearly 50 markets. It will also be in Washington, D.C., by the end of this year, and we expect that will make for an even easier decision to move to 4G for more organizations.
We are seeing 4G being put to work to address all types of needs, from health services to security to disaster response. A couple of key applications are worth noting. The first is “situational awareness,” which leverages 4G’s ample bandwidth for law enforcement, investigation, and defense purposes, such as mobile high-definition video surveillance, location-based solutions, and the transmission of huge image files from target areas.
Another is healthcare, with 4G offering greatly expanded mobility for caregivers. They can view high-resolution medical images, patient records, and lab reports on wireless tablet PCs or even on the high-def screen of the HTC EVO 4G, freeing them to move about and interact with patients while still maintaining connectivity to important data.
4G, of course, opens the door to a whole range of other mobile, productivity-enhancing applications for federal agencies. Its high bandwidth makes cloud computing much more practical; it supports emergency communications for disaster responders, whether it’s an East Coast hurricane, a gulf oil spill, or a fire out west; and it enables improved management of transportation systems, field offices, and more.
One forward-looking application that a number of agencies are considering is the use of Sprint 4G service to power informational kiosks. These kiosks could enhance the service that various locations provide to citizens. By locating them in convenient places for the intended users, services and information could be made available anytime, without making people drive as far or juggle their schedules.
By the way, Sprint 4G services are available to federal agencies today through Sprint’s GSA Networx Enterprise contract and the Federal Supply Schedule 70 contract.