Optical link bridges Navy community
- By Heather Harreld
- Jul 10, 2000
The Navy is taking advantage of a high-speed optical network to create a
"local-area" network that spans some 20 miles of the San Diego region.
The network, which the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command describes
as a "transparent LAN," gives remote Spawar workers easy access to the base
intranet. Based on its success, other military bases in the region are now
looking at a similar solution, sources said.
The transparent LAN links the San Diego Defense and Space Technology
Consortium, located in El Cajon, Calif., with Spawar, which is located about
20 miles away in Point Loma, Calif. The consortium, which was created in
1999 to help businesses in San Diego County compete for defense contracts,
works closely with Spawar, including Spawar employees using an Air Force
satellite communications system in El Cajon.
The new data connection between the satellite project team and the Spawar
Systems Center in Point Loma enables workers at both locations to easily
and quickly share information, according to Jeffrey Siconolfi, operations
manager for Spawar's Automated Communications Management System.
In addition, the network allows the DOD workers at the satellite office
to maintain their .mil e-mail addresses, which had been limited to workers
on military bases or in DOD offices, he said. This address allows the remote
workers to access DOD World Wide Web sites that are restricted to those
with .mil addresses, he added.
But the network does not compromise security. E-mail, financial data
and administrative information — but no classified data — flow between the
two locations. And no contractor has access to the corporate intranet — "just the people who need it, the people who use government credit cards,
people who do purchasing," Siconolfi said.
Cox Communications Inc. is providing the LAN service using fiber-optics
technology that can manage data at OC-48 speed, or 2.488 gigabits/sec. They
are using multiservice access equipment from Atmosphere Networks Inc., which
can handle data handed off by either high-speed optical or standard Ethernet
The network, which also includes 180 telephone lines for voice service
and a 10 megabits/sec Internet connection, is also highly scalable, according
to Paul Shortal, business account manager for Cox Business Services in San
Diego. A simple change in software, for example, can increase throughput
from 20 megabits/sec to 45 megabits/sec.
This "bandwidth on demand" can be provided via the transparent LAN within
one hour compared to the usual 60 to 90 days required by carriers using
traditional telecommunications equipment. In addition, Cox does not charge
a service fee to ramp up bandwidth, Shortal said.
In addition to the scalability of the network, the technology also provides
a "seamless connection" for the users at the satellite office, he said.
"The connection is as if they are in the same building," Shortal said.
"They don't even know that there's a 20-mile distance between them. That's
the speed of the network. It's as if it's next door."
Cox is talking with officials from Camp Pendleton and other regional
military installations about providing the transparent LAN technology for
their operations, he added.
—Harreld is a freelance writer based in Cary, N.C.