Harris/Teledata satellite system offers voice service

TUZLA, Bosnia—U.S. forces here definitely could use a "Star Trek" "comm badge" to supplement their tactical satellite systems. But in lieu of that, they have a Harris Corp./Teledata Corp. satellite system that offers something almost as good: U.S. dial tone.

Rich Kronebusch, a senior manager for Harris, based in Melbourne, Fla., said the Harris/Teledata (H/T) very small aperture satellite network (VSAT) in Bosnia provides "the troops with Atlanta dial tone...because our terminals in Bosnia connect with a satellite terminal in Atlanta."

H/T plans to install 13 VSAT terminals to support U.S. forces in Bosnia, Kronebusch said. He added that Harris, on its own, has a contract to supply similar services to a number of other NATO countries providing forces in support of Operation Joint Endeavor.

Maj. Brian Hamilton, an integration officer with the 22nd Signal Command based here, said many of the H/T VSAT terminals are slated to go into the critical and relatively remote forward operating bases.

`For Unclassified Traffic'

This will provide the forward-deployed troops with an easy-to-use communications system, Kronebusch said.

"When a user picks up an H/T phone, they receive an Atlanta dial tone. These phones are primarily used for voice service, which means they can call worldwide or to one of the [other] H/T terminals in Bosnia," Hamilton said.

Tony Anthony, Teledata's vice president, said the U.S. military plans to use the VSATs "primarily for unclassified traffic, with billing handled through our computer in Atlanta."

Anthony added that the space segment for the VSAT network is provided by Columbia Communications through the C-band transponders that the company owns and operates as a private carrier on NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). "We're using TDRSS because of the footprint," Anthony said.

Hamilton of 22nd Signal said that besides voice phone calls, the H/T VSAT network will also support dial-up data traffic, either electronic mail or Combat Support System computers exchanging information with databases in the United States. "The H/T phones provide a terrific means when others are not available to dial into military term servers and pass [unclassified] data traffic," Hamilton said.

To send data over the VSAT link, Hamilton said individual phones must be configured at the multiplexer for data because the VSAT network uses compressed voice at 8 kilobit/sec.

Kronebusch said the service H/T provides in Bosnia for U.S. and NATO forces is a follow-on to a similar network the two companies operated for the United Nations. "We did have to move some of the [2.4-meter dish] VSATs around to support the U.S. forces," Kronebusch said.

Harris handles all installation and maintenance for the VSAT network, with a team based in Split, Croatia, Kronebusch said.

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