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A new coalition of organizations with expertise in defense technology will push for more 5G adoption. General Dynamics Information Technology, a business unit of General Dynamics, has partnered with other industry giants to create an edge and 5G accelerator coalition.

Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Splunk and T-Mobile will make up the coalition, with which they intend to promote 5G, advanced wireless and edge technologies for government agencies.

The coalition is focused around GDIT’s Advanced Wireless Emerge Lab, which will be used for developing new 5G and edge use cases and developing prototypes and solutions. The goal will be to make these solutions customizable.

In general, the customers are likely to be federal, state and local government agencies. The GDIT 5G and Edge Accelerator Coalition will explore uses of edge technology in “military, logistics and supply chain, healthcare, education, and smart infrastructure,” GDIT said in a press release.

Specifically, the work is broken up between the different coalition members according to their areas of speciality. AWS will provide cloud infrastructure, connecting edge devices to cloud services. Cisco will bring 5G core and mobile edge computing capabilities for data processing.

SEE: Don’t curb your enthusiasm: Trends and challenges in edge computing (TechRepublic)

From Dell Technologies comes open infrastructure and edge operations software, artificial intelligence-enhanced edge devices and sensors, while Splunk will provide cybersecurity automation and edge computing. T-Mobile will be responsible for network bandwidth, expertise and advanced industry solutions for large use cases, such as smart infrastructure. And GDIT itself will design, deploy and maintain end-to-end 5G solutions using the coalition and its network of partners.

“Forming this coalition will help us bring our collective strengths together to provide technical differentiation and the most beneficial solutions for our government customers,” said Ben Gianni, GDIT’s senior vice president and chief technology officer.

5G for government agencies and contractors

General Dynamics focuses on military industrial solutions broadly, while GDIT focuses on technology capabilities, including AI, cloud and next-generation wireless, and on services such as logistics and supply chain management or medical research support.

In a November research study, GDIT found that about 90% of surveyed federal agencies plan to adopt 5G. Of those surveyed, 44% had already piloted or deployed 5G. In terms of federal agencies moving toward or already using 5G, most surveyed said they plan to use it for networking and connectivity or mission-enabling applications.

The former means network capability (77% of respondents who said they plan to adopt 5G) as well as internet of things platform connectivity (61%) and smart infrastructure (50%). Of those organizations looking for mission-enabling applications, 41% were looking for command-and-control, and 28% were looking for logistics and manufacturing.

“As part of this new coalition, we can collaborate with other technology, telecommunications and government leaders to help power an inclusive future,” said Carl DeGroote, vice president of federal sales at Cisco.

“In today’s landscape, 5G solutions provide a wealth of benefits for the federal government and we are committed to helping them adopt and maximize these innovative technologies to best achieve their missions,” said Bethann Pepoli, group vice president at Splunk. “Security is a top concern when it comes to implementing these new technologies, and we are focused on helping to ensure the government has the correct tools and support to maximize their cybersecurity operations and threat response.”

Barriers to 5G

However, the defense industry also faces the challenges others do, if not more. It tends to be an industry in which adoption is slow, relying on proven technologies and platforms.

“Many agencies are still developing use cases and identifying the enabling technology that will make 5G transformative for them,” said Gianni.

The most-cited reason for an organization to hesitate is cost. Of the surveyed groups, 91% listed cost and budget as their greatest challenge, followed by cybersecurity (87%) and integrating 5G capabilities into the rest of the organization (83%). However, 53% say 5G will be an investment priority in the next 12 months.

“Investing in 5G is not only an imperative for today, as previous networks like 3G are decommissioned, but it is also an investment in the technology of the future,” said Shuaib Porjosh, director for advanced wireless at GDIT. “6G is not far behind 5G, and the sooner agencies can position themselves to take advantage of those opportunities, the more effective they will be at driving value from the technology.”

While commercial telecom gradually rolls out 5G, the U.S. Department of Defense explores the potential for 5G to speed up wireless connections. In April, the DoD launched an award competition to improve 5G interoperability. In May, the DoD 5G-NextG Initiative opened a smart warehousing project in San Diego’s Naval Base Coronado.

For more on 5G, see our cheat sheet for 5G networks, the road to 6G or the largest 5G private network in the U.S.

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