Navy mandates COTS for data and communications pgrade

WASHINGTON - U.S. Navy officials, in an effort to standardize the voice, video, and data systems at their bases worldwide, are tasking experts at Lucent Technologies Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J., and GTE Government Systems Corp. in Stamford, Conn., to provide components for a new telecommunications system.

By John McHale

WASHINGTON - U.S. Navy officials, in an effort to standardize the voice, video, and data systems at their bases worldwide, are tasking experts at Lucent Technologies Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J., and GTE Government Systems Corp. in Stamford, Conn., to provide components for a new telecommunications system.

The so-called Infrastructure Modernization of Voice, Video, and Data (VIVID) Supplies, Services, and Local Access and Usage project will provide switches, servers, multiplexers, voice mail, phone sets, fiber cable, wireless equipment, and services related to voice, video, and data communications to different bases.

VIVID will standardize on commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) equipment. "For VIVID we are going to pull technology together rather than push out new technology," says Kurt Lawson, VIVID technical program manager at GTE.

These upgrades also will provide voice, video, and data capabilities for ships at sea and at dockside, says Jim O`Neill, president of Lucent`s government services business. Managing the program will be officials of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in Arlington, Va.

Officials of the Navy and any other Department of Defense agency can use the VIVID contract to buy or lease a wide variety of telecommunications and information-processing equipment such as data networking equipment, network management and security systems, cable plant, SONET transmission equipment, and telephone switches.

Lucent, the only bidder to receive a full contract, will supply networks, equipment and telecommunications services. Companies receiving partial contracts will vie with Lucent for an estimated $2.9 billion in business over the next 10 years.

Navy officials awarded the contract by having each company try to solve all the telecommunications problems of one fictitious base, explains Tom Earley, program manager for VIVID at Lucent. The fictitious base had a representation of each problem at all the bases worldwide.

"Our technology will add the capability of five-way video-conferencing through use of digital switches and wireless networks will be used on shipboard applications," he says.

"The new systems will have an affect on the seaman`s personal life as well," Earley says. "Currently every time a ship enters a new port, the sailors must change the phone number where family can reach them. Under the VIVID contract each ship will have the same phone number anywhere they go in the world."

Lucent is offering its 5ESS-2000 Switch, DEFINITY Enterprise Communications Server, multimedia communications exchange server, Multipoint Conferencing Unit, SONET multiplexers, WaveLAN and WavePoint systems for wireless network connectivity, Intuity voice mail, ISDN phone sets, fiber optic cable, and microwave equipment.

GTE`s partner on VIVID, Electronic Data Systems of Plano, Texas, will provide data network design, installation, and management services, as well as for subcontracting out information-processing services under the program.

The process will be a migration that will take 10 years if the Navy continues to have the money to finance it, Lawson says. "We won`t be going in and replacing the system overnight."

More in Communications