“The Evolution of Mobile Networks and Modern Commercial Solutions”

Special Operations Technology
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According to Lieutenant Colonel Lamont Hall, product manager for Warfighter Information Increment 2, traditional non-mobile networks, or fixed networks within the Army, were either line-of-sight (LOS) radio networks or fixed-station satellite networks.

The LOS radio networks primarily relied on short distance point-to-point transmissions between fixed or stationary relay towers. LOS radio networks were constrained to a small geographical area and were limited by the number of relay towers available. Fixed-station satellite networks were comprised of 3-meter and larger fixed-satellite dishes, which provided network services to local sites that were connected to the fixed dish via fiber cables.

“The Army realized that these fixed networks did not support its rapidly deployable, expeditionary mission requirements,” said Hall. “The service embarked on a path to develop mobile tactical networks that supported the expeditionary missions of brigade combat teams (BCTs) with the data, intelligence and communications that they required at the point of need.” Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the Army’s mobile tactical network communications backbone, is the result of this development…

02 Oct 2014 | Written by  Chris McCoy, SOTECH Editor

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Challenges to Military Mobile Networks

Hall explained that Army tactical mobile satellite networks present three primary technical challenges.

“The first is with high-speed satellite tracking antennas that track and maintain connectivity with satellites while on the move over rough terrain in all weather environments while withstanding combat shock and vibrations and power fluctuations,” he said. “All the while, these systems must maintain an extremely high reliability level with months of continuous operations between failures under these challenging conditions.”

The second challenge is in providing on-demand bandwidth to priority users with guaranteed delivery of critical network traffic with minimal latency.

“Lastly, it is a challenge to ensure network traffic prioritization of voice, data and applications with precedence given to critical message types and time-sensitive mission command applications such as fires, intelligence and emergency medical services,” Hall explained. “The WIN-T Increment 2 program is continually working to overcome these challenges, while making the system more intuitive for soldiers to learn and operate. WIN-T Increment 2 provides soldiers with the information and communications they need, where and when they need it.”

Commercial Solutions

Klas Telecom offers the Voyager networking solution. Voyager is a modular and scalable baseband networking system of systems that is low in size, weight and power (SWaP) and boasts a product feature set unique to the marketplace. Voyager comprises a range of Cisco-based common form factor networking modules (routing, switching, VoIP, RoIP, cellular and more) and various chassis options for use across the full spectrum of deployment platforms, and from static to on-the-move operations. Because of the system’s flexible design, it can scale easily from supporting a single user to company command posts and to echelons above battalion.

“In short, Voyager is one system that can be used in multiple applications from airborne, ground operations, vehicle, and traditional 19-inch rackmount environments,” said Carrie Sarver, Klas Telecom Marketing and Communications director. “It can be used across all echelons of support—[from] small to large teams—and contains a vast portfolio of networking capabilities to meet virtually any requirement, whether that’s legacy technology like ISDN, innovative technology like 3G/4G LTE cellular base station, WiFi/cellular tethering, integration of disparate IP devices, removable storage and configuration keys and more. Gone are the days when you need multiple, disparate systems to support all mission requirements.”

Voyager’s “plug and play” design allows the core of the first-in-communicators network package to become the core of the increased capacity network systems so that no component goes unused as the systems scale. This reduces operational hardware footprint, simplifies logistics and sparing, and lowers the amount of training required…

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