Can Your Network Adapt to Current and Future Demands? With SD-WAN, It Can!

Posted by Laura Stanton
on January 14, 2021

How adaptable is your network?

Think back on how your organization worked through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you’ll have your answer.

Having a Modernized Infrastructure Paid Off

Agencies with modernized services such as Ethernet-based networks and software-based IP phones were able to operate with minimal disruption as their workforce shifted to full time telework. They took advantage of scalable bandwidth to quickly meet increased network requirements without the need for physical or onsite changes. This agility is one of the many advantages of modern infrastructure and cloud deployed applications. IP Voice users similarly kept making calls regardless of their physical location, and those with Unified Communications leveraged capabilities such as chat, conferencing, collaboration tools and presence applications to keep their workforce on mission.

SD-WAN Integrates and Orchestrates Your Network

IT leaders are actively seeking to implement a new networking technology called Software Defined – Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN can securely connect your headquarters, data centers, branch offices, and remote workers with numerous cloud-based services. SD-WAN can enable Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) use cases, segment users and applications, and play a role in Zero Trust Network architectures.

SD-WAN Is Now a Managed Service Under EIS

We recently added SD-WAN to our Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. SD-WAN is ideal for improving network performance since it increases visibility and control enterprise-wide. It saves money and increases performance by allowing the use of different types of internet connections such as broadband internet, 4G/5G wireless internet or high-availability Direct Internet Access based on availability and need. It can even be incorporated with existing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits for critical applications.

SD-WAN Features and Ordering At-a-Glance

Our team created four new use cases for SD-WAN, Ethernet, IP Voice and Traditional TIC to show key info as a handy reference. These single-page infographics highlight the technologies we see driving modernization, the business value those technologies can offer you, and our implementation recommendations. We also offer supporting documents such as in-depth savings analyses, service guides, and whitepapers.

Software Defined - Wide Area Network graphic
SD-WAN Modernization Use Case pictured above. Download the PDF version.

In a GSA analysis of SD-WAN, medium-sized agencies can achieve a cost avoidance of 42%. Our SD-WAN Overview and Ordering Guide lays out everything you need to evaluate SD-WAN and acquire it on EIS. How’s your network able to support the ever-expanding use of cloud services? Utilize the numerous GSA resources to assist your organization to modernize with SD-WAN.

For additional information on what IT modernization could look like for your agency, please contact your designated GSA representative or call 855-482-4348.

Visit the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions page to learn more and use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Reach the last mile with Connections II

Posted by Laura Stanton
on September 24, 2020

In today’s high-tech world, finding the right contract vehicle can mean the difference between getting a task done efficiently and tediously searching the procurement landscape.

Much can be said for an existing contract with a pre-vetted pool of qualified industry partners and efficient ordering procedures. Agencies can depend on Connections II, whether focused on present needs like supporting the demands of a 100% mobile workforce, or future goals, like using 5G networks to coordinate a galaxy of devices.

Opportunities like this do not last forever. In this post we will take a look at one of our proven contracts that is now entering its final phase. Agencies that act now can realize some serious savings!

Connections II is a global, multi-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract. This contract makes it easy and cost effective for government agency officials to find, acquire, and implement network infrastructure solutions, including:

  • Infrastructure design, installation, and implementation.
  • Professional services to support existing networks.
  • Upgrading network equipment, standards (including IPv6), and systems.
  • Transition planning and integration services.
  • Customized client-specific systems.

All without the need to create a new contract.

After many years of service, Connections II is approaching the culmination of its period of performance. However, task orders in place by January 18, 2021 can extend for up to five years.

Why Connections II?

With Connections II, you’ll have access to convenient, one-stop shopping to meet agency needs for labor, equipment, and solutions to support telecommunications, networking and network-centric applications at the LAN, building, campus, and enterprise level.

Save Time and Money

Use the inter-agency contract to reduce agency costs and acquisition time, allowing your agency resources to focus more on mission-critical operations. Strong competition means competitive prices. Additionally, your agency may be eligible for tiered pricing.

Integrate Your Enterprise, Worldwide

Connections II helps federal agencies integrate building and campus networks as part of a global infrastructure transport telecommunications solution. It also supports traceability of equipment sources to aid in managing your supply chain.

Get Full-Service Contractor Support

Contractors help agencies determine requirements and support their business goals. Incidental construction is permitted, including integral trenching, wall repair, related electrical, and HVAC.

Access Pool of Qualified Contractors and Small Businesses

Customers have access to a highly qualified set of 19 pre-qualified/pre-selected contractors. You’ll also have the choice among 9 small businesses for making socioeconomic set-asides.

Enjoy Flexibility

As a Connections II customer, you’ll have access to multiple types of task orders. You can choose between self service or GSA-assisted task ordering. Choose from priced contract line item numbers (CLIN) or add unpriced items (anticipated and expected) that are within scope. You can also set your own timelines.

Get Expert Help

Our team understands your technical needs. We have documented sample statements of work (SOWs) and other helpful information on our Resources page. We’ll walk you through the options available as your acquisition strategy develops.

Enable Transition

While the window for Connections II is closing, the door to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) is open wide. Included among the resources we offer is a SOW dedicated solely to managing the transition of services from one platform to another or from an old contract to a new contract. Agencies can update their infrastructure using the services provided under Connections II and smooth the way for their transitions to EIS.

For assistance anytime, please contact ConnectionsII@gsa.gov. Ask us how your agency can realize savings and reach the last mile with Connections II!

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Public Sector 5G Strategy Series – Part 1: Technology

Posted by Laura Stanton
on June 16, 2020

The Wheel Is Turning

If you’ve scrolled through social media or watched live TV lately, you’ve likely seen an ad for 5G. If you find yourself wondering why there is so much conversation about 5G –you are not alone. Is it worth all of this attention?

We think so. 5G is set to revolutionize the world’s telecommunications infrastructure, paving the way for even greater use of autonomous devices and expanding the number of interconnected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).

In October 2019, GSA held its first public event about 5G, where government and industry experts gave us a compelling look at the rollout of next generation networks, discussed how they’ll support IoT applications, and outlined the steps necessary to secure this new hyperconnected future.

Going forward, we’ll be sharing a series of posts outlining how we expect 5G will drive change across government, and what agencies should do to prepare. 5G means different things to different people, so our “5G for Government” strategy is best visualized as a wheel composed of six core concepts:

  • Technology
  • Standards
  • Security
  • Policy
  • Acquisition
  • Use Cases

This post will look at the evolution of the technology enabling 5G, and more importantly, the types of devices, applications, and services that will soon depend on it.

New Tech, Same Trends

The first cellular telephones hit the market in the mid-1970s and offered wireless voice calling over an analog network. In the early 90s, this first generation cellular technology, using analog telecommunications standards, transitioned to a 2G digital network, allowing both voice and data to travel wirelessly between devices.

3G and 4G gave us mobile internet and streaming video, respectively, leading to the rise of the smartphone and entirely new industries, such as mobile application development and cross-platform analytics.

Remember when you couldn’t open an email attachment on your phone or send a photo—let alone a video—over a wireless network? When did that change?

Most people could not tell you which network generation enabled what feature, only that devices became faster, applications more data dependent, and new services arose as capabilities increased.

The same will be true for 5G, but due to its engineered flexibility and vast capacity for high-speed data transfer, the changes will come sooner and reach far beyond communications.

Why 5G Is Different

Since 5G is still new to the market, what we can say about its current technology is limited. Indeed, many experts will tell you that 5G was designed to support applications and services that are still largely confined to a laboratory setting. For now, when we look at the technology, we can only compare it to what’s currently on the market, but when we do, it becomes apparent that we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Changing Devices

Take the smartphone, for instance. Right now, a phone on a 4G network downloads data at approximately 12-36 megabits per second (Mbps). A 5G enabled phone clocks in at 50 Mbps at minimum. Phones on the fastest commercial networks can reach 1,000 (1 gigabit) per second, and average speeds are expected to exceed 10 Gbps as the technology matures.

How does it reach these speeds? 5G transmitters use higher frequency radio waves, some in or near the millimeter wave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Bandwidth is much more plentiful there, which greatly increases the capacity and speed of data transfer. Instead of a single cellular antenna, the 5G phone contains multiple receivers, allowing it to process all this data over multiple streams, in parallel. You could liken it to filling a glass of water from the bottom up, and the top down, at the same time. 

Smaller, More Flexible Networks

Like their predecessors, 5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into a mosaic of small geographical areas called cells. While conventional cell phone towers are hundreds of feet tall, millimeter wave antennas are only a few inches long. Though an individual antenna may only cover a small area, multiple antennas can work together as phased arrays to beam data straight to the user. This technique, known as beamforming, is one of many ways that 5G networks can be optimized to improve performance while it serves huge numbers of devices.

Open To Innovation

Small but mighty, 5G networks could be used to provide general home and office internet connections. A technique called network slicing could be used to segment a larger 5G network into highly customizable “slices,” managed and operated independent of the infrastructure owner, tailored to unique business needs. When used in conjunction with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), 5G could replace outdated cable connections in government offices, campuses, and military bases.

Edge computing is another exciting concept made practical by 5G. This technique involves creating a cloud-based IT service environment at the edge of the cell, leveraging its unique properties and raw power to move computational workloads physically closer to the user. Theoretically, sophisticated edge computing could eliminate the need for physical hard drives and bulky device components, as the actual computing would occur in the cloud and beam compiled data directly to a screen or user interface. Battery sizes would shrink, ushering in new opportunities for wearable and drone technology.

Hypercharged wireless internet and robust cloud computing are just the start. The high data rate and low latency of 5G are envisioned as opening up many new applications in the near future. The use of data-heavy virtual and augmented reality applications in healthcare and research is one promising example. Another is 5G’s facilitation of fast machine-to-machine interactions in the coming Internet of Things . For example, computers in vehicles would continuously communicate with each other, sensors on the road, and real-time, artificial intelligence) generated directions using 5G. This is the kind of “smart grid” cities will have to deploy to support self-driving cars. Over time, communication capabilities and computing power will combine and extend across networks and devices, and information and computing power will be instantaneously available. This will encourage a wave of innovation in applications, services and functions built to run on the new infrastructure. 

Lightning speed, expanded capacity, and massive connectivity are the defining characteristics of current 5G networks and enabled devices. These conditions are ideal for emerging technologies to take root.  

More than that, 5G is widely expected to be a defining stage in the global evolution of IT in general, affecting almost all parts of industry and society. In subsequent posts, we’ll take a look at the standards on which it will all be built and explore the security considerations around its deployment. 

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Until then, please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Registration Open for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS): Path to the Future Sessions

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on June 3, 2020

GSA’s EIS Path to the Future online series will focus on sharing best practices that will help federal agencies prepare for EIS transition activities.

Be sure to attend if you are a:

  • CIO/IT staff member
  • Contracting Officer
  • Contracting Specialist
  • Financial staff member
  • Program manager
  • Project manager
  • Telecom staff member
  • Transition executive or manager

You can sign up to attend some or all of the sessions listed below. Attendees will earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP) for each session attended – up to six for the series. Your GSA support team will be available to answer your questions during the event.

The sessions:

Tips for Proposal Evaluation
Wednesday, June 10
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
Join us to hear from DOI about how they sustained their EIS task-order award after a GAO protest and the lessons they learned that will benefit all agencies.

Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) 3
Wednesday, June 17
3 to 4 p.m. (ET)
In this session, you’ll learn from GSA and DHS/CISA what’s expected of agencies to protect their networks. Discover what is available to help your agency meet security requirements using EIS. We will discuss how solutions can be packaged to provide the security you need now and will need later.

Transition Closeout
Thursday, June 18
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
As government agencies move to the EIS acquisition vehicle, legacy telecommunications contracts will expire. GSA will limit the use of its legacy telecommunications contracts and freeze all future growth on those vehicles. Extended use of these contracts is limited to agencies who are making sufficient transition progress to be 100% off the expiring contracts by September 30, 2022. The Networks Authorized User List (NAUL) will be updated to remove users in phases, which is expected to begin in summer 2020. In addition, GSA will stop processing any new Networx/WITS contract modifications and any new LSA implementation orders on October 1, 2020. Join us for this session to ensure that your agency is positioned well for the future and will avoid disruptions in service.

EIS Ordering
Wednesday, June 24
2:30 to 3:30 p.m. (ET)
After your task order is awarded and you’ve developed your implementation plan with your EIS supplier, it’ll be time to begin the ordering process. This interactive discussion will review who should be involved, what information needs to be conveyed, and how an agency begins the process. GSA will share all of this – and more – to help you expedite your ordering process.

Rules and Tips for Awarding EIS Contract Modifications Prior to Awarding Task Orders
Wednesday, July 15
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
This session will cover the authorization of orders, Network Site Codes (NSCs) not in the traffic model, requesting status of vendor submissions (modifications) that affect your task-order award(s), and modification priority.

Solutions to Modernize your Enterprise Network
Wednesday, July 22
2 to 3 p.m. (ET)
During this session, we’ll discuss advancements in network technologies – such as software-defined networking and managed security services – and how your agency can leverage these technologies as part of your EIS modernization plan. We will also explore the as-a-service model common with cloud computing and its applicability to network services.

On the registration page, check the boxes for each one-hour event you would like to attend. You must have a .gov or .mil email address to register.

Sign up for some or all of the sessions today!

For more information, visit our pages for EIS and the EIS transition. Members of the media who would like more information or to attend should contact us at press@gsa.gov.

GSA is here to help! If you have questions about EIS or the EIS transition, please contact your telecom agency manager.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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GSA Supports Government Readiness

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on May 14, 2020

In these tough times, we know how hard agencies are working to continue the good work of government. You don’t have to go it alone – GSA is here to help.

Our solutions make it easier to get mission-critical supplies and services to address the needs of first responders on emergency frontlines. They also provide access to the tools and technology necessary to keep the government running.

Addressing changing environments: continuing operations in an emergency

GSA’s contracts are set up for the quick acquisition of computers, software, mobile devices, cloud and virtual network solutions, cybersecurity, identity management, and health IT solutions.

As federal, state, local, and tribal agencies address the unique challenges presented by a pandemic, GSA will be here when needed as a trusted partner – in the middle of an emergency and in preparation for the next one.

Expedited support services for agencies

GSA is offering expedited support to agencies, including market research services to identify companies that can respond to emergency-related requirements and providing assistance on telework IT requirements as well as expediting requests for GWAC Delegation of Procurement Authority (DPA).

How can my agency get help?

GSA is uniquely positioned to fulfill agency needs and help them implement lasting enterprise solutions to enable modern capabilities.

GSA has several solutions set up to help right away:

  • GSS Laptop and Desktop Blanket Purchase Agreements
  • Wireless Mobility Solutions
  • Cloud / Virtual Solutions / Network Services
  • Cybersecurity
  • Identity Management (PIV/PKI)
  • Health IT Products and Services

Read more about these solutions in our Emergency IT Solutions 2-pager.

What’s next?

Contact us if you need help finding solutions during this crisis. Our Response Solutions Team is ready to assist you in making the right procurement decisions for your mission.

Contact info

For prompt support with emergency IT requirements, contact GSA’s National Customer Service Center:
Call: 855-482-4348
Hours for live chat and calls: Sunday 8 p.m. – Friday 8:30 p.m. CST
Email: ITCSC@gsa.gov

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Freezing Modifications and Limiting Use of Extended Contracts

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on March 24, 2020

Timeline of the Planned Transition to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions

In December 2018, GSA announced that we would extend the expiring Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3, and Regional Local Service Agreement (LSA) contracts to allow the necessary time for agencies to complete transition and modernize.

The successful transition to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), the federal government’s $50 billion, 15-year, Best-in-Class acquisition vehicle for telecommunications and networking, is a strategic priority for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

Originally set to expire in 2020, GSA is extending the expiring contracts by an additional three years to May 2023. In extending these legacy contracts, GSA requires agencies to meet certain critical milestones to continue using services on the extended contracts.

Additionally, GSA is taking steps to curtail the growth of services on the extended contracts by freezing modifications and limiting use. These actions will minimize the impact of GSA having to maintain dual operations.

Freezing Modifications on Extended Contracts

Effective October 1, 2020, GSA will implement controls on its extended Networx, WITS 3, and LSA contracts by freezing all future growth on these vehicles. All new services should be provided under the EIS contracts.

Processing Modifications on EIS Contracts

GSA recognizes that many agencies have released their EIS solicitations and are waiting for EIS contract modifications to be evaluated and awarded by GSA. We are prioritizing modifications needed for agency awards.

Limiting Use of Extended Contracts

On March 31, 2020, GSA will begin to limit the use of its extended contracts for agencies that are not making progress towards transition. GSA will disconnect agencies, in phases, to meet the September 30, 2022 milestone for 100% completion of transition. The first phase will include agencies that have been “non-responsive” to transition outreach from GSA. Future phases will be based on each agency’s status at that time and the individual circumstances impacting that agency’s transition progress, such as protests or pending contract modifications.

Once a phase is complete, agencies identified will no longer be allowed to process any modifications or orders, will be ineligible for an exception, and will have their active services disconnected.

We applaud the agencies that are taking active steps to modernize and we will continue to monitor progress across the federal government. Taking steps to curtail growth on the extended contracts will encourage agencies to transition existing and new services onto EIS. GSA will continue to communicate with agencies at all levels, provide resources and support to agencies through transition, and pull all available levers in support of significant cost savings, greatly improved efficiencies, and enhanced cybersecurity— all achievable through EIS.

Questions? Contact Allen Hill, Executive Director, GSA’s Office of Telecommunications Services at allen.hill@gsa.gov or (202) 701-7891.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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GSA, Customers, and Vendors Meet in Texas for 2019 ITC Acquisition Summit

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on October 1, 2019

This August, we brought nearly 300 representatives from government and industry together for our 2019 IT Acquisition Summit. Collaborative events like this are critical to our success in supporting agency missions across government.

We met in Fort Worth, home of GSA’s Greater Southwest Region 7, which spans Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. We used a human-centered design approach to generate open communication and collaboration between GSA and our industry partners. Learning through use-cases and sharing information helps us better understand the challenges and constraints both government and industry have.

The summit was held in coordination with the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) and moderated by its president, Tom Suder. During the first day, attendees heard from various GSA and industry representatives on popular topics such as cybersecurity, mobility, 5G, emerging tech, and IT modernization. 

Dennis Shingleton, member of the City Council and mayor pro tempore, opened the summit with a boisterous Texas-style welcome.

I moderated the kick-off session with panelists Bill Zielinski, Assistant Commissioner of the IT Category; Anahita Reilly, Chief Customer Officer of the Office of Customer Experience; and Dominic Sale, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Operations for Technology Transformation Services. They discussed GSA’s approach to IT modernization, category management, and shared services.

An afternoon panel from the Mobility Services Category Team discussed the 5G rollout, how it will shape public-sector adoption of Internet of Things applications, and its implications for supply chain security. Allen Hill, director of the Office of Telecommunications, opened the session, and Sam Navarro, program manager of the Enterprise Mobility Program, moderated the panel. Representatives from AT&T, Verizon, MetTel, and T-Mobile discussed the state of mobile technology and how consumers of 5G determine the new ways they will use the technology.

Our summit concluded with opportunities to attend one-on-one sessions with GSA acquisition professionals and an interactive use-case workshop.

We plan on hosting the IT Acquisition Summit again in 2020 — slated for Washington, D.C. The open communication and collaboration in a focused setting foster the type of game-changing ideas we need to continue enhancing IT acquisition for the whole of government.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

To get updates for this blog, please sign up on the right-hand side of the page where it says Sign up for Blog Updates.

*Photographs above by James Wronski, Carahsoft

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GSA Leading the Way for 5G

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on September 26, 2019

In July, we gave you a first look at the possibilities of 5th generation wireless technology (5G) in the public sector.

Commercially, 5G devices will deliver voice, video, and data to consumers with unparalleled efficiency for broadband mobility. Providers will upgrade their networks, manufacturers will develop new types of devices, and industry will market products and services around connectivity and mobility.

For the government, a 5G future is more complex since we’ll be tasked with making these technologies useful for everyone. That’s why we’re publishing a white paper on 5G — watch for that after our 5G Technology Customer Event on Oct. 3.

What’s Next for Government 5G

As new technology comes to market, we work with agencies and industry to pair the right wireless solutions to mission needs — focusing on wireless solutions security and cost efficiency.

Schedule 70 SIN 132-53 shows the robust capabilities we bring to the government market:

  • Wireless Carrier Services
  • End Point infrastructure
  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS), a.k.a Device as a Service (DaaS)
  • Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
  • Mobility Backend as a Service (MBaaS)
  • Telecommunications Expense Management System (TEMS)
  • Mobile Application Vetting
  • Mobile Threat Protection
  • Mobile and Identity Management
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

10/3 GSA 5G Event

To learn more about the possibilities of 5G, join us on Oct. 3 at the GSA 5G Government Symposium. We’ll cover:

  • how 5G can help agencies meet their mission,
  • the challenges facing government as we implement this new technology, and
  • how 5G will integrate into today’s networks.

View the agenda. Join us online or in person.

Stay Tuned to 5G

For our next 5G post, we’ll explore how unlicensed and lightly licensed spectrum could affect campus networks.

Until then, please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

To get updates for this blog, please sign up on the right-hand side of the page where it says Sign up for Blog Updates.

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EIS and IT Modernization: Foundation for the Future

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on August 6, 2019

As IT professionals, we know what it means for an organization to be data-driven. The infrastructure on which that data moves is critical to the government’s mission success and the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract will serve as the foundation for public-sector technological transformation.

Modern Telecom: Far From Phones

Telecommunications services enable practically all information technology (IT) in every government agency. The establishment, maintenance, and modernization of communications networks are key components of our government’s ability to meet its mission.

We support agencies’ global missions with a complete spectrum of IT and telecommunications services, infrastructure and equipment.

We offer:

  • access services
  • accessible telecommunications
  • managed network services
  • network applications
  • satellite services and applications
  • telecommunications services
  • wireless and mobile networking

We bring together our technical and acquisition experts, leading industry partners, and agency specialists to offer these services efficiently, effectively, and at a lower cost to taxpayers.

The Future is Flexible

IT modernization is a national priority with bipartisan support from Congress, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Each federal agency is at a different point in the network modernization process and can deploy new technology at different rates.

New IT modernization guidance and legislation, combined with market changes and citizen expectations, are driving the demand for transformative technological change at unprecedented levels.

EIS: Made for Modernization

EIS is a catalyst for IT modernization. To expand bandwidth, EIS will help agencies move away from time-division multiplexing technology to more modern services. It will replace legacy voice services with Voice over Internet Protocol or unified communications. Rather than having each agency design and operate multiple parts of a network, EIS will use cost-saving managed services, such as cloud migration.

EIS will also embed security components directly in network services purchases, thus helping agencies proactively defend their systems. EIS is the only federal contract to include both Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity requirements as well as OMB policy directives.

Simplicity Brings Savings

Under EIS, agencies can structure their acquisitions from a single source, dramatically simplifying the process. This EIS feature promotes cost savings through aggregated federal buying, which can deliver a monthly savings of 16-21%.

To open opportunities for small businesses and foster competition, EIS relaxed its geographical coverage requirement and reduced the number of mandatory services.

As a Best-in-Class solution, EIS will ensure customers receive pre-vetted and secure solutions to protect their systems, data, and people.

The Big Picture

As agencies transition to EIS, they get a major opportunity to address legacy systems and meet their network-related IT Modernization requirements using a more holistic, strategic approach. Migrating to cloud infrastructure, enhanced mobility, automation, satellite communications, and cybersecurity are common topics among agency officials and policymakers.

But for an agency to truly modernize, the practice of simply replacing legacy equipment and adhering to traditional, fixed-price contracting models—the so-called, “Like for Like” approach—will not be enough. We now plan and pay for technology according to the services we consume, not just the products we acquire.

EIS was designed to allow agencies to use this consumption-based pricing model, so they can access new and emerging technologies as their needs evolve and opportunities arise.

Collaboration is Key

EIS represents a landmark collaboration among GSA, federal agencies, and industry innovators on a simple, flexible solution. Just recently, we hosted over 120 customers at our second annual EIS conference. The event allowed IT leaders, telecommunications providers, contracting officers, project managers, and finance specialists to meet and learn how the EIS transition will support their IT modernization goals.

Roadmap

In December 2018, we announced we were extending the current legacy telecommunications contracts to 2023. Agencies have less than four more years to transition to EIS.

The EIS Transition Roadmap shows important milestones, namely:

  • September 30, 2019: Deadline for awarding EIS task orders.
  • March 31, 2020: Use of the extended contracts will be limited for agencies who have not made task order awards.
  • March 31, 2022: 90% of agencies’ telecom inventory must be off expiring contracts
  • May 31, 2023: Current contracts expire.

Have questions about how to accelerate your progress in meeting these milestones? Connect with our customer support team at gsa.gov/nspsupport.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Way Beyond Wireless: Planning for 5G

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on July 30, 2019

Every generation of wireless technology has enabled new business models, increased our connectivity, and changed our lives in unimaginable ways. 5G is poised to do the same. 5G enabled devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) will allow huge numbers of sensors and devices to gather incredible amounts of  data and transmit the data at remarkable speeds over wide distances. We are going to see a new wave of information enabled in government and industry. Instead of your phone or laptop acting as the processor, it will sit inside the edge of the 5G infrastructure. This will allow things like driverless vehicles and telemedicine.

5G will provide the digital infrastructure that will shape the quality of life of most of the earth’s population. Yes, it will load web pages and play videos on your phone 10 to 20 times faster than 4G. Mobile devices will spend less time processing data, which will consume less power, which will result in extended battery life. But these are little advances compared to what is possible.

The true potential is how the technology can quickly transfer data between devices in lots of different ways. That ability means it will replace cable and WiFi networks in homes, offices, campuses, military bases, and even whole cities.

What does 5G mean for government?

Because it enables the IoT, 5G is one of the more important emerging technologies. Thanks to 5G’s flexibility, every level of government will use 5G as IoT enters the public sector. Consider these applications:

  • Replacing outdated telecommunications and network technology in public buildings and facilities. 
  • Allowing for advanced automation and security processes at logistics centers and the nation’s ports. 
  • Supporting augmented and virtual reality (VR) applications in our national laboratories. 
  • Monitoring regional and interstate entities power grids to keep pace with fluctuating demands.
  • Providing traffic control and managing fleets of self-driving vehicles in cities.

U.S. policy considers 5G a strategic national asset, and the legislative and executive branches are actively working to reallocate spectrum for its use. The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) is developing standards and testing 5G technologies. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is focusing on cybersecurity threats unique to 5G. Recently, the White House issued an executive order to proactively create and secure commercial supply chains in a 5G future. 

How can my agency get 5G?

We are uniquely positioned to fulfill our customers’ needs and help prepare for 5G implementation.

GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract and Schedule 70’s SIN 132-53 Wireless Mobility Solutions both cover 5G services and infrastructure. Alliant 2 GWAC and Connections II cover infrastructure only.

What’s next?

We’ll be explaining how 5G works, how it will be deployed, and the steps we’re taking to deliver it to our customers. We’ll soon release a white paper outlining our approach to 5G implementation.

On October 3, we’re hosting a 5G Technology Customer Event, where we’ll address how 5G makes concepts like network slicing and edge computing possible. Email wireless@gsa.gov to get on the invite list.  

Join the conversation on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn.

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