Navy sails with VOIP

The Navy plans a revolutionary upgrade of shipboard communications systems to handle voice-over-IP (VOIP) phone calls and converged voice, video and data traffic.

The IP convergence project will provide a significant increase in shipboard throughput, which will enhance warfighting capabilities for afloat forces, said Robert Wolborsky, program manager for network information assurance and enterprise services at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (Spawar).

Those ships rely on satellite communications and have data rates over a single satellite circuit that top out at 1.5 megabits/sec.

Spawar expects to complete the VOIP phase of the project by 2006. It will start work on a program to dynamically manage shipboard bandwidth next year.

Spawar plans to provide shipboard VOIP capability through an evolutionary upgrade of the existing Automated Digital Network System (ADNS) developed by Science Applications International Corp., which uses data routers from Cisco Systems.

The ADNS upgrade, known as Increment II, will occur on about 110 surface ships and will free up bandwidth by reducing the number of satellite circuits to and from the ships allocated to handle voice calls, Wolborsky said.

Currently, ships allocate a certain amount of bandwidth to voice time-division multiplexed circuits, whether or not a voice call is being made, which he called a waste of bandwidth.

The enhanced ADNS system will also include software to ensure the quality of voice service, with voice packets taking precedence over data packets so calls are not broken up, he said.

Delores Washburn, network domain chief engineer for the Navy's ForceNet project managed by Spawar, said that later in the year Spawar wants to start fielding ADNS Increment IIA, which will provide the capability to dynamically manage and allocate bandwidth.

The IIA upgrade will add management of video along with voice and data, for a converged network, Washburn said.

Besides helping to better manage ships' limited network resources, Wolborsky said the shift to IP will help eliminate separate shipboard switches and wiring to handle voice calls distinct from data networks, for savings in weight and space.

Craig Mathias, an analyst with the Farpoint Group, said VOIP is such an established technology that it "makes sense [to use it] just about anywhere." He said the Navy will gain efficiency by using one IP network for all traffic.

The VOIP revolution

Although voice-over-IP (VOIP) technology may be revolutionary on Navy ships, it has been gaining acceptance throughout much of the Defense Department and in some civilian agencies. In March, the Defense Information Systems Agency said it planned to convert all its long-haul voice traffic to VOIP using six upgraded Nortel Networks switches to manage trunking and handle IP traffic.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of the Education Department's workforce uses VOIP phones in its Washington, D.C., headquarters and branches nationwide. The Interior Department hooked up its headquarters to a VOIP system in May.

The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard helped pioneer VOIP in the Navy, installing its system in September 2000, well ahead of other federal facilities, which were still trying to understand the acronym and technology.

— Bob Brewin

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.


  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group