The Federal Government's Wireless Technology Plan

P> The commercial market isn't the only game in town, especially in Washington. The federal government market demand for wireless products and services will grow from $55 million in fiscal year 1995 to $65 million in 2000, according to new research by Input, Vienna, Va.

The technologies that will bring about that jump are: paging, faxing and e-mail; specialized mobile radio systems; two-way data; cellular; personal communications services; and wireless local area networks.

Even though funding for federal programs is decreasing, almost all of the 30 government representatives surveyed said they intend to increase spending on wireless technology.

Vendors, however, aren't so optimistic. Only 39 percent believe wireless technology has very high growth potential. According to vendors, the key factors that would either encourage or hinder growth are need and acceptance of the market by local government and government personnel overseas, especially in military communications.

The Input study also found that:

- The FBI won't use cellular technology in the next five years, mainly because of security concerns.

- The departments of Commerce and Energy are not interested in PCS. The Environmental Protection Agency runs PCS pilot programs, but has not been pleased with the results.

- The National Security Agency, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Secret Service have current and future planned uses for all six wireless technologies.

Of the 30 government respondents, 25 want to buy wireless products and services through competitive procurements; 11 prefer to get them directly from the vendor; and 12 respondents will get them through an existing service contract. Input predicts a federal wireless market with more competitors and less single providers.

Most new wireless opportunities will be in civilian agencies, with law enforcement and environmental services leading the market, the report said.

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