DISA upgrading presidential comms

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The Defense Information Systems Agency is working to upgrade the communications systems and tools that are available to President Bush anytime and anywhere in the world.

DISA is working with the White House Communications Agency, which is responsible for the voice, video and data systems that support the president and his staff. The two agencies identified major systems upgrades at locations including Camp David, Md., and the "Southwest Wing," Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr., director of DISA.

DISA also has helped deploy a secure video teleconferencing system for the president and has plans to move forward with an IP-based networking system and a secure wireless solution "to support the president and those who protect him," said Raduege, speaking Sept. 10 at the Homeland Security and National Defense Symposium in Atlantic City, N.J.

Later this month, DISA will complete the first phase of additions to the secured Defense Red Switched Network, which can carry classified information and put the president in contact with key personnel at federal agencies. After last year's terrorist attacks, the Office of the Secretary of Defense directed DISA to extend the network to more federal agencies, Raduege said. He added that the second phase could include extending the network to state governors, but the proposed Homeland Security Department will ultimately make that decision.

In other DISA news, Raduege said the Wireless Priority Service (WPS) -- which government officials have been pushing since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks wreaked havoc on wireless telephone networks -- is on schedule to provide priority access to the first cellular tower for national security officials and first responders nationwide by the end of this year.

In times of national emergency or crisis, when localized wireless networks become congested, the WPS will enable national security officials and first responders equipped with special phones to have a greater chance placing emergency calls. The system places calls in a queue for the next available channel.

WPS is on pace to be fully operational by December 2003. That will include "end-to-end, device-to-device priority queuing capability" and full integration with the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), Raduege said. GETS provides government workers with a code that categorizes their calls for priority access, and that system worked well after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he said.


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