GSA Issues Guidance to help Agencies Buy Secure 5G

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The guidelines for federal agencies detail best practices throughout the 5G ecosystem.

The General Services Administration provided guidance on Thursday for federal agencies to buy secure 5G wireless technology, according to an announcement

The guidance furthers an ongoing multi-agency effort to share 5G-related best practices and directs agencies and their vendors to Best-in-Class acquisition vehicles that have secure 5G services in them.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that this guidance collects best practices from across the government,” said Laura Stanton, GSA’s assistant commissioner for the Office of Information Technology Category, in the announcement. “We have confidence that it will go a long way toward helping federal IT managers, contracting offices and their industry partners work together to build secure 5G systems.”

GSA’s guidance follows other government efforts for secure 5G, such as the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020, which required the federal government to develop a four-pronged strategy to make sure the next-generation of mobile telecommunications and infrastructure was secure. Additionally, the National Strategy to Secure 5G outlines how the U.S. will lead global development, deployment and management of secure and reliable 5G infrastructure, including through mitigating 5G supply chain risks. To support this endeavor, GSA was tasked with “establishing acquisition processes to facilitate 5G infrastructure for classified information requirements.”

The 5G wireless technology will enable higher data-transfer rates, more energy savings, higher capacity and improved device connectivity, among other things. 

“5G networks have the potential to be faster, more reliable and serve many more devices—and could provide infrastructure to help with everything from smart buildings to telemedicine,” said Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi. “We’re pleased to be issuing this guidance to ensure that government can make the most of secure 5G in its efforts to deliver for the American people.”

As noted in the guidance, it is intended to “help agencies identify their standards, security controls and other requirements to provide a secure infrastructure for 5G-enabled technologies. This effort is also intended to reduce cost and eliminate acquisition redundancies. It is written in plain language and will be updated regularly as the technology matures.”

The guidance outlines best practices for the acquisition process and 5G specific requirements—architecture, technical and effective spectrum utilization and coexistence. It was drafted by subject matter experts from the Office of Information Technology Category’s Wireless Mobility Solutions with incorporated agency feedback.