Defense Media Network

Veterans Affairs and AT&T Pilot Program to Study Healthcare Use Cases for 5G and Multi-access Edge Computing

AT&T has delivered AT&T 5G capabilities across the entirety of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle in a public-private partnership with the VA. VA expects to pilot a variety of healthcare use cases with our 5G and multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies to explore how they can improve healthcare delivery to the approximately 9 million Veterans who use VA healthcare services each year.

This is an industry-first deployment of 5G and MEC capabilities across the entirety of a VA health care and training facility. Multi-access edge computing is essentially a computer and cellular network architecture that brings real-time, high-bandwidth, low-latency access to latency dependent mobile applications. 5G and MEC “holds the potential to be transformational by enabling new healthcare delivery and business models” according to Gartner1. Among the healthcare-focused use cases that could be piloted are:

  • Mobile-to-mobile connectivity across/between medical devices, allowing the tracking of people and assets within the facility.
  • Improved medical procedures and training through the use of emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
  • Remote and virtual pain management using AR and VR.
  • Remote and/or near real-time surgical assistance via the ability to layer multiple surgical techniques using AR.

AT&T has completed installation of a 5G Distributed Antenna System (DAS) for use with Sub6 GHz spectrum and  other components needed to enable 5G. This 5G coverage extends to the recently opened Mental Health & Research building. We expect to deploy MEC and 5G millimeter wave spectrum and technologies in 2021, which will significantly boost speeds while improving latency.

AT&T has installed a full 5G Distributed Antenna System (DAS) encompassing the entire Seattle VA Medical Center. This is the first campus-wide indoor 5G system to be used by both VA staff and veterans on the AT&T Mobility Network. This 5G system allows for increased carrier speeds and provides the next generation of cellular and mobility technology for both veterans and staff. It sets the groundwork for future capabilities of mobility networks for VA users and applications. –Daniel Mesimer, Director, WAN/LAN Infrastructure Engineering & Provisioning Solution Delivery, Office of Information and Technology, IT Operations and Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

1 – Gartner. Market Trends: 5G for HealthcareMay 29, 2020.