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John Long

Radisys technology is helping to enable wireless communications in harsh environments, such as the battlefield.

Is there a real need for 3G and 4G wireless technology in military and aerospace environments?

One thing that everyone found surprising in Afghanistan and Iraq is the insurgents' use of cell phones. They were able to be very mobile, communicate via SMS (short message service) and voice, gain better situational awareness, and respond to threats and opportunities much better than the U.S. troops.

We're seeing a lot of interest to provide some of the same functionality to the U.S. troops. The problems they are trying to solve include: increasing bandwidth within a geographical location, enabling faster sharing of information (voice, data, and video), and providing a robust, yet secure wireless network. We see 4G LTE and, to some extent, 3G applications really playing a role in aerospace/defense and public safety-federal agencies that need to set up critical communications quickly.

There is a need for everything from a system with the femtocell and core network in a backpack, all the way to larger-scale infrastructure that might be a mobile command center covering a larger tactical area.

Is security a serious concern?

A lot of systems leverage standards-based technology, both 3G and LTE, sometimes with security overlays. The solution we see in most cases is a femtocell, or small base station, and a wireless core network. The femtocell device picks up the radio communications and is connected by some mechanism to the core network, which is connected by Ethernet, processes a call, etc.

Most deployments are looking to use existing protocols deployed in commercial networks. For aerospace and defense, sometimes security enhancements are put on top to secure the network so only handsets, femtocells, and EPCs running a particular security enhancement can under- stand it and communicate with it.

These components must work together seamlessly to be really successful. They also must be made to meet the stringent requirements of aerospace and defense suppliers for shock, vibration, environments, weight, and power. The key is to enable rapid deployment of the femtocell and EPC-get it mobile and able to be deployed rapidly in the field, while meeting the operating requirements for the harsh environment.

When might networks be deployed?

You probably won't see widespread deployment until 2013 since evaluations are starting on a very small scale. If you have a pull from the warfighter, technology gets deploy- ed a lot quicker and a lot earlier. This is something the Department of Defense wants to do and is trying to figure how best to deploy in the field. They are even looking into putting a femtocell on an unmanned aerial vehicle and flying it over a tactical operational field. They've done a lot of work on soldier handsets; the challenge is getting the network in place.


NAME: John Long
TITLE: Senior product line manager
CO: Radisys
ROLE: Focus on ATCA single-board computers and storage at Radisys, a provider of advanced embedded solutions

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