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FCW : December 2012
ices to the citizenry with less resourc- es, and for this, I think wireless is a natural complement to the existing wired networks," Haan said. "Togeth- er, they provide synergistic results so that agencies and their constituents are better served. But wireless only adds to that instant capability so you can serve more people at a greater capacity." Government agencies are begin- ning to take advantage of 4G capa- bilities. For example, some federal defense and state and local public safety agencies are building their own wide-area networks using 4G wireless broadband. The Navy is relying on long-term evolution (LTE), a 4G tech- nology, to enable more reliable and far-reaching communications between ships at sea, while Mississippi of cials recently built a statewide LTE net- work that will allow law enforcement personnel and rst responders to talk to one another across jurisdictions and share situational awareness data and video in real time. Most agencies have no compel- ling reason not to take advantage of existing wireless carrier networks, Orr said. "It s really no different than what many agencies have been doing to enable telecommuting, which is to go to a commercial carrier and set down a router at a remote site. It s just going from wired to wireless broadband." And in fact, many agencies have started using wireless networks for key applications --- such as telework, uni ed communications and disaster recovery --- and as a low-cost, high- capacity backup to wired networks. NASA is developing a "work any- where" policy that would rely on cloud computing, commercial broad- band and Wi-Fi networks to enhance employee mobility. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Ser- vices plans to use wireless broadband to provide telemedicine services and medical education to rural and minor- ity communities. And a pilot program undertaken by HHS, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, AT&T and Baylor University is testing the use of video streaming via smart phones to demonstrate diabetes self- management techniques. The fundamentals The availability of 4G wireless broad- band is the key foundational tech- nology for enabling the secure any- time/anywhere mobility promised in marketing materials, but adopting it is not as simple as contracting with a carrier, said Shawn McCarthy, a research director at IDC Govern- ment Insights. A mobile solution requires addi- tional technologies to ensure that employees can securely access agency resources without introduc- ing risk, he added. For example, most agencies cur- rently require teleworkers and other remote employees to log in via a vir- tual private network, which provides a relatively inexpensive but highly secure tunnel within wired or wire- less networks. Using a VPN for a larger mobile workforce could be more complicated. December 2012 FCW.COM 27 How new 4G technology stacks up Wireless technology 2G 3G 4G Devices Cell phones Smart phones, tablet PCs Smart phones, tablet PCs, cameras, TVs, vehicles, sensors, health care equipment Average download speeds 100 kilobits/sec 600 kilobits/sec to 1.4 megabits/sec 5 to 15 megabits/sec Capabilities Digital voice, texting E-mail, fast Web browsing, social networking, location-based services, mobile applications Videoconferencing, live video streaming, cloud-based applica- tions, smart grid technology, machine-to-machine computing, real-time security-camera moni- toring, immersive education
November 30, 2012