Silvus and Trex Enterprises join DARPA program to create 100-gigabit-per-second wireless links

Posted by John Keller

ARLINGTON, Va., 26 Aug. 2013. U.S. military researchers are looking to experts at two more RF communications companies to develop a military wireless data link able to transmit data at speeds as fast as 100 gigabits per second within one radio frequency channel.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., have awarded Silvus Technologies Inc. a $3.8 million contract and Trex Enterprises Corp. in San Diego a $492,797 contract for the DARPA 100 Gb/s RF Backbone (100G) program.

The contracts were awarded last week by officials of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on behalf of DARPA.

The 100G program seeks to create an airborne communications link with fiber-optic-equivalent capacity and long reach that can propagate through clouds, rain, and fog, and provide high availability.

Silvus Technologies and Trex Enterprises join Applied Communication Sciences in Basking Ridge, N.J., on the 100 G program. Applied Communication Sciences won a $4.3 million contract for the 100G program last month.

Researchers at the three companies will develop approaches for blending high-order modulation with spatial multiplexing to achieve spectral efficiencies greater than 20 bits-per-second-per hertz, and provide 100-gigabit-per-second capacity at ranges of 125 miles for air-to-air links and 62 miles for air-to-ground links from an aircraft flying at about 60,000 feet.

The program's 100-gigabit-per-second airborne data links are to connect the major nodes of military networks, and to handle voice, video, Internet, and enterprise data flows.

Although the U.S. civil telecommunication infrastructure relies heavily on single-mode optical fiber as the data backbone, military communications cannot rely on a fixed infrastructure for deployed operations, DARPA experts explain. Instead, the military needs to project fiber-optic-equivalent capacity anywhere within its area of responsibility with a relative lack of communications infrastructure.

In the first phase of the DARPA 100G program, experts from the three companies will focus on developing technology for a 100-gigabit-per-second data communications prototype.

Later, the program will develop prototype 100G transceivers and integrate them into aircraft and fixed ground sites, and then build a final prototype for flight testing.

DARPA will split about $18.3 million among contractors for the first phase of the 100G program, so more phase-one contracts yet may be awarded. The first phase will concentrate on high-order modulation at millimeter-wave frequencies, and developing ways to generate, transmit, receive, and process high-order modulation at millimeter-wave frequencies. Applied Communication Sciences will build a transmitter and receiver.

Other portions of the program involve spatial multiplexing at millimeter-wave frequencies to reduce transmit power, and proof-of-concept demonstrations for operating the 100G system.

For more information contact Silvus Technologies online at www.silvustechnologies.com, Trex Enterprises at www.trexenterprises.com, Applied Communication Sciences online at www.appcomsci.com, or DARPA at www.darpa.mil.

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