SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Convergence

Buying Converging Services

Is mobility in government becoming pervasive?  The answer is a resounding “yes” according to GSA director of Network Services Karl Krumbholz. “I would say it's pervasive across our country and that government mirrors that to a great extent,” Krumbholz told 1105 Government Information Group Custom Media in a recent interview.

Krumbholz said that because of the nature of whatgovernment does, it naturally is a large user of wireless mobile devices.

“As government, we are all plugged into large networks; we are often on call; we are mobile, moving around, but having to stay plugged into organization,” explained Krumbholz. “This magnifies what the requirements must be; in government you have to be in contact and wireless capabilities are so important to every part of government.”
Networx is structured to enable agencies to invest in their network IP infrastructures and buy the PBXs, WLANs and handhelds needed to power FMC.

GSA recognizes that mobility requirements - the one's that FMC specifically targets -- are only going to grow. And along with it the infrastructure required to make FMC happen.

That's one reason why the Networx contract is structured the way it is - to enable agencies to invest in their network IP infrastructures and buy the PBXs, WLANs and handhelds needed to power FMC.

“I believe it will happen in time, but it will happen in stages,” said Krumbholz, “where they gradually go to VOIP and then gradually to a converged network.”

According to Krumbholz, a strategy that one agency is looking at is to build out a full VoIP voice network and keep it separate from their data network. Then as that network matures, you can move data on to that network. “There are a lot of ways to be done, but we are in the midst in that evolutionary process now,” noted Krumbholz.

Krumbholz described how there are agencies that are fully VoIP and there are many where pockets of their infrastructure have been migrated in stages at many locations to VoIP on separate networks.  And this takes time.

Pursuing Adoption
Keeping tabs on how new telecom technologies are being adopted by agencies is GSA's Frank Tiller - the technical lead for the Networx contract.

“Just like in the civilian world, there are early adopters and there are people who are a little more conservative about how fast they adopt technology,” Tiller told 1105 Government Information Group Custom Media.

When asked about whether government is pursuing FMC, Tiller said government is aggressively pursuing mobile devices that can support multimedia, where you can stay constantly connected as you move around and can plug into the wireline network too.

“So you can take this one device where you have ability to collaborate, where you see an object, talk about it and run videos at the same time and as you move around (like at an airport) or you can plug into the network at various locations and offer you services at all those different points.”

What FMC delivers according to Krumbholz is as mobile devices evolve, a single device to work with, so whether you plug into the wall or use in wireless sense, you will always be connected.

“What we have seen is increasingly wireless technology that offers an extension of the desktop to anywhere you want to work,” said Krumbholz. “You are actually getting full broadband capability on your computer disconnected from your desktop at some distant location whether at airport or on park bench. And gradually that same capability is migrating to your personal device.”