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Marine Corps looks to DISA, industry to slash mobile costs

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The Marine Corps is testing new capabilities it hopes will cut mobile computing costs in half.

The service is working with Verizon, Sprint and AT&T on a small beta program to test the feasibility of wireless carriers managing the security of mobile devices, based on Marine Corps policies and standards. The devices will be managed using a dual persona solution, which will allow the carriers to manage government data and applications but not personal use of the phone by military and civilian users.

“If the beta goes well and we prove the technical requirements that need to be employed, then we will move into the pilot,” said Rob Anderson, chief of Command, Control, Communications and Computers- Vision & Strategy Division at Marine Corps Headquarters.

The pilot will include about 500 users in the northern Virginia area, but the Marine Corps hasn’t determined if the pilot will use personal or government devices. If successful, the pilot will be expanded across the military service and serve as the foundation for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is also testing how capabilities offered by the wireless carriers stack up to a mobile device management solution offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA is testing a mobile device management (MDM) solution provided by Good Technologies.

“We want to compare both pilots,” said Anderson, who spoke at a mobile computing summit Tuesday. He said the Marine Corps will compare the cost of DISA managing mobile devices versus the wireless carriers and consider user feedback from both pilots.

“We are keeping all options open,” he said. “Whatever the most cost efficient is, [that's] the way we will go. Money is going to drive this train.”

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