VA piloting 5G network across Seattle health care system

The George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City. (Veterans Health Administration / Flickr)

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is piloting a new 5G wireless network across a Seattle medical health care system in partnership with AT&T, the company announced Tuesday.

The network is powered by a new indoor distributed antenna system (DAS) and multi-access edge computing (MEC) that the VA hopes will boost speeds and decrease latency.

The Seattle-area pilot builds on other “5G hospital” experiments, like one at a Silicon Valley veterans hospital, to help enable the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools. This differs, though, in that it is the first network deployment of 5G across a larger VA hospital system, to include multiple facilities linked by the enhanced network.

“This 5G system allows for increased carrier speeds and provides the next generation of cellular and mobility technology for both veterans and staff,” Daniel Mesimer, director of WAN/LAN Infrastructure Engineering and Provisioning Solution Delivery at VA, said. “It sets the groundwork for future capabilities of mobility networks for VA users and applications.”

Under this new pilot, the VA wants to further test the ability of the new technology to one day help connect rural hospitals to major hubs via 5G networks. The hospital system in Seattle includes critical care and training facilities, along with a host of other centers like an eye clinic, mental health center and a pharmacy.

“This public-private partnership to test our 5G and MEC capabilities is distinguished by the scope of implementation and innovation it allows, going well beyond a single-room care environment to encompass an entire medical care and training campus,” said Chris Smith, vice president of civilian and shared services at AT&T public sector.

The VA also choose Washington as the state to launch its new electronic health record modernization program.

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5G, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), IT Modernization
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