Monday, December 13, 2010

Wireless Connectivity for DoD

With an increased dependency on connectivity to cloud computing, browser-based personal computers and close to 100% systems availability the DoD will have to resort to wireless networks. To deliver high performance communication services and redundancy in circuits, DoD wireless will also have to depend on “mesh” computing.

The shift to wireless connections to the Internet is also driven by an increased dependency of a mobile workforce that uses multiple computing devices to keep informed.

DoD will have to depend on WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access). This is a telecommunications protocol that provides fixed and fully mobile Internet access with expected capacity of one Gigabit/second, with further increases in speed expected.

WiMax can provide mobile broadband connections, offer a wireless alternative to cable and DSL for "last mile" broadband access, handle data, telecommunications (VoIP) and IPTV services and connect to Internet.

There are numerous devices that enable connectivity to a WiMax network, which includes chips embedded in personal computers. A WiMax cell tower has a range of up to 50 km, though with a decrease in that range higher speeds and greater reliability is attainable.

The preferred way of deploying WiMax would be by means of mesh networks that can offer not only enhanced reliability but also improved bandwidth capacity.

Placing increased reliance on WiMax mesh networks offers advantages in comparison with the costs of physical wiring. As DoD shifts to a mobile workforce, the availability of wireless connectivity becomes mandatory for security and interoperability reasons.

Most DoD manpower is concentrated in a few installations where the range of WiMax is sufficient to reach most personnel. From a security standpoint WiMax can potentially offer greater security than WiFi while it is also more effective for use in expeditionary deployments. Mobile communication services, such as provided by devices such as BlackBerry, will be ultimately displaced by DoD managed wireless networks that connect to collaboration applications without intermediaries.

From a planning standpoint it will be necessary to include WiMax (and its successors) in the design of DoD networks, especially in planning how the “last mile” connections are established.