Army expects new network to reduce costs 65 percent

Upgraded optical network also will meet green initiatives

The Army plans to cut costs and meet ecological goals with a new high-speed optical transport network linking New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range and the Fort Bliss Range Complex in Texas. It has placed new orders under its three-year-old, $4 billion Infrastructure Modernization program to create the network platform, which is projected to reduce costs by 65 percent by converging multiple network layers.

Reduced power usage also will cut associated electricity consumption by 85 percent, according to Joe Shilgalis, director of strategic alliances for Tellabs Government Systems, which has been contracted under General Dynamics to provide the optical network.

“That’s pretty dramatic – I’d love to have my power bill go down by 85 percent,” Shilgalis said.

The company’s optical transport system will enable “dynamic management of high-intensive applications, such as video and images,” he said. The increased complexity, capacity and agility of the system allows for real-time bandwidth reallocation to juggle multiple applications at once and transmit different types and sizes of data files to various locations, he added.

“The benefit of optical technology is the ability to save on footprint space and power consumption, because it’s smaller equipment,” said telecom industry analyst Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading. “It’s an interesting project – it looks like the military is going toward some pretty leading-edge technology, so that’s encouraging.”

The project could be expanded not only throughout the Army, but possibly across the services. “The demand to move information is global,” Shilgalis said. For example, an unmanned drone flying over Afghanistan that can send streaming imagery and information to combat troops and analysts is a valuable asset.

Shilgalis said the Army expects to have the technology in place before the end of the year.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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