The communications landscape within the federal government is changing rapidly, and Sprint is working closely with agencies and departments of all sizes to assess their evolving needs and provide cost-effective, tailored solutions.
One area where change is happening at a dizzying pace is mobility. Chris Felix, Vice President and General Manager of Government Solutions for Sprint Business, says the speed of change in mobility makes it almost mandatory that agencies move to a “mobility as a service” model, where they lease and budget for their communication services, rather than invest in equipment and try to manage everything themselves.
“It is all about technical and functional modernization, and that is where the as-a-service approach really has an impact,” Felix says. “What matters most now for government agencies is not the phones and the devices themselves, but the applications and the services that drive and support your mission.”
Many government employees, like their private sector counterparts, really want to use their own technology where possible. They’re familiar with it and know its potential, but how do you balance that with the unique needs of government agencies? Felix points out, “that is where we can help, by bring in best practices we can assist agencies navigate the government’s unique needs.” The push for Mobility-as-a Service brings some significant challenges to government agencies when there exists a mix of older and newer technologies and this is where expert assistance plays a critical role.
“We talk with a lot of departments who want to be part of the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, and whether those devices are Sprint devices or not, we can work with that,” Felix says. “We work with agencies to keep capital costs down by using existing, viable equipment wherever we can and tailoring the package to an agency’s current or anticipated needs.”
Jim Spillane, Vice President Government Solutions at Sprint Business says across the board, agencies and departments are expressing tremendous interest in 5G, the next huge technology wave in wireless communications. 5G is a new way of harmonizing networks – to deliver faster speeds, lower network latency, and broader coverage to support the new applications that will drive the 21st century government.
5G will offer ever-more-secure connectivity to mission-critical information and integrated GPS services to improve real-time situational awareness. 5G will also provide a streamlined gateway to enable wider federal implementations of IoT (internet of things) sensor technologies. Broad 5G deployments will be upon us by 2020.
“The 5G conversation has opened many agency and department doors to us,” Spillane says, which attests to the company’s compelling story around 5G. Sprint’s vast spectrum holdings in the 2.5 GHz spectrum is sweet spot for 5G communications.
“We are seeing many departments already thinking about how they can apply 5G,” he says, adding that they recognize that “what Sprint is doing is far beyond what anyone else is talking about. They see other carriers already making excuses when it comes to their 5G plans, while we will be in the prime position to act quickly with all the advantages 5G has to offer.”
Increasingly, the federal government is recognizing the need for service provider diversity throughout their agencies and departments. Many of them have long been working with a single carrier but are now evaluating their options.
“When it comes critical issues such as security and continuity of operations, we are seeing agencies moving their phone services to multiple carriers,” Felix says. “If any one carrier should be affected by a security breach, an outage, or some other issue, that diversity can keep an agency’s operations going.”
“We welcome that trend, because we are less concerned about the scope of the business than we are about being able to provide a solution. Whether it’s two lines in an agency field office or 20,000 lines on military bases, we are ready to serve.”
Partnering for solutions
In an age of communications complexity, no service provider can go it alone to truly meet the needs of federal departments and agencies. Meeting the challenges of the federal government requires an ecosystem to develop the vast range of specific, customized solutions that address each organization’s particular requirements.
“What we bring to the table better than anyone else is a willingness to work with partners,” Spillane says. “For example, we worked with one of our partners on a system that embeds sensors in the body armor of law enforcement officers. This solution called, Automatic Injury Detection detects damage to the armor in the event of a shooting or body blow and ties to the officer’s smartphone and in-vehicle computer to issue immediate alerts, which can be critical in the event an officer is hurt and can’t communicate.”
Spillane adds that partner solutions can range from specific applications such as the Automatic Injury Detection solution to broader, all-encompassing communications overhauls, and said Sprint continues to add partners to expand its ecosystem and offer innovative solutions that leverage its robust, high-speed network.
One thing that differentiates Sprint in its approach to the federal government is its emphasis on delivering solutions, not selling equipment.
“You won’t see us focus on pricing, or promotions like ‘get a month free,’ because we know people in the federal government are more concerned with achieving technical and functional modernization that meets their budget, satisfies their users’ requirements, and helps them fulfill their mission”, responds Felix
To do that, Felix says, Sprint works with agencies to fully understand their communications needs. That means analyzing what resources are already in place, what might be needed, what they want to accomplish from a communications perspective, and how that fits their mission.
“It might be something like analyzing the way an agency’s field personnel work. How they use their phones, what kinds of gaps there are in their work processes that we can help them fill. Maybe instead of field personnel coming into the office at the end of each day to type up their reports, they could use a tablet and a mobile broadband card and remotely file their reports.”
One area where a Sprint solution is streamlining communications is in law enforcement, at all levels of government. Many officers are forced to juggle two mobile phones, one for their work and the other a personal phone. It’s cumbersome, particularly since officers already carry more than enough equipment.
Sprint MultiLine is a solution that can put both a government number and personal number on a single device, making communications far more efficient. Sprint has helped bring that option to departments through analysis of their telephony needs.
“We meet with you, we listen, we learn, and we develop a solution that we can present to you so that we’re confident that it will solve your problems,” Spillane says. “It could be a wireless or wireline or IoT solution, or a converged solution, whatever it takes to meet your telecommunications needs.”
It’s a strategy that is clearly resonating with federal organizations.
“The overwhelming response from the numerous agencies we are contracting with is that they love the diversity, the options and the specialized support we offer. We welcome the chance to talk with other agencies, whether they are interested in pursuing a standalone request for proposal or want to work through one of the contract vehicles we have in place that allow virtually all federal agencies to procure services.”
Serving those who serve
Our federal government focus is founded on a simple message: “serving those who serve.”
“This includes anyone in government who works on behalf of the citizens of this country or our states and local communities,” Felix explains. “Just as they serve, our objective is to serve them from a communications standpoint.”
That mission is foundational to the Bend-Over-BackwardTM support that Sprint has become known for. It’s a support service that emphasizes trusted relationships in which Sprint’s goal is not just to sell additional phones or service, but to deliver the right solution for each federal agency’s needs.
“What we are focusing on is building a foundation for long-term relationships and for long-term support of each agency’s mission. The people we talk to have their own customers, which are the agencies themselves, and we recognize they have finite budgets and funding.”
“They need someone to help them find the best solution that fits within their budget and funding limits, and that is what we promise in every relationship. We want to be the solution provider that listens”