COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT: WNaN radio network selected for NIE experiment

The U.S. Army selected the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Wireless Network after Next (WNaN) radios to support the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.1 experiment at Fort Bliss. The WNaN team consists of DARPA; Raytheon BBN Technologies, a subsidiary of Raytheon Co., which provides the applications, networking, and integration capabilities for this next generation platform; and Cobham Sensor Systems LLC, which provides the hardware.

The goal of the WNaN program is to develop and demonstrate technologies and system concepts that enable densely deployed networks in which distributed and adaptive network operations compensate for limitations of the physical layer of the low-cost wireless nodes that comprise these networks.

WNaN networks will manage node configurations and the topology of the network to reduce the demands on the physical and link layers of the nodes. The technology created by the WNaN effort is meant to provide reliable and available battlefield communications at low cost.

The WNaN radio provides a mobile ad hoc network with dynamic spectrum access, disruption tolerant networking, and multiple cooperative transceivers on a compact, handheld platform. These networking technologies allow WNaN radios to operate in dense signal environments without dropping calls, facilitate mission command through the ability to easily set up as many as 128 call groups, and maintain situational awareness when communications are interrupted.

Dynamic spectrum access senses which spectrum is in use and automatically shifts to the best available frequency. Disruption tolerance allows the network to continue to advance message traffic toward its intended destination when there are outages or interruptions, and then delivers the message when the necessary path becomes available. Traditional IP networks drop message packets whenever there is no complete path to the destination. Multiple transceivers enable the network to scale in density or size and operate efficiently over multiple channels.

The WNaN system participated in NIE 12.1 as a system under evaluation following a series of demonstrations where WNaN surpassed scalability requirements by transmitting voice and data traffic across 102 nodes in a tactical environment.


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