My Toys are Better than the US Army’s Toys

By Dean ~ September 1st, 2011. Filed under: SDR & SCA.

Well, at least some of them apparently are…

Paul often bemoans the fact that the smartphones we carry dramatically exceed the networking and processing capabilities of the handheld equipment deployed under JTRS.  He’s not alone.  A very interesting post by Sandra Erwin over on National Defense Magazine’s blog, titled “Army Continues Hunt for the Latest Wireless Technologies” makes much the same point.  Quoting Kevin L. Kelly, VP & Chief Strategist for LGS Innovations (an Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary):

The Army sooner, rather than later, must bridge the bandwidth deficiency gap that exists today in combat zones, says Kelly. The contrast between the connectivity that soldiers are accustomed to at home and what is given to them when they deploy is “mindboggling,” Kelly says. “There’s orders of magnitude difference between the throughput capacity and processing capacity on the commercial platforms compared to combat systems.”

Even the military’s newest radios, the Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS, have very rudimentary data processing capability, he says. “It’s a serial processor on board a handheld push-to-talk radio that is using technology that looks an awful lot like the walkie-talkies we used in the Vietnam War.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, Mr. Kelly’s company offers one of the coolest bits of technology that I’ve heard about recently, the 9907 Rapidly Deployable Network (RDN).  According to LGS Innovations:

Image of the Rapidly Deployable Network box from LGS Innovations

The Rapidly Deployable Network in a Box
Image credit: LGS Innovations

“The 9907 Rapidly Deployable Network (RDN) is a compact and self-contained 4G network-in-a-box that enables mobile U.S. Federal Government units to establish a trusted network for secure, real-time mission-critical voice, video, data, and sensor communications. It provides mobile, flexible and self-sufficient communication networks that can adapt to the needs of the situation or mission, whether it is within the confines of a hurricane ravaged region, military convoy, or in a combat zone.”

They also claim that it’s “man-portable,” but at 22 pounds and (presumably) accompanied by some beefy power source(s), I’d really hate to be the guy that’s carrying it very far.

Front and back Images of the Samsung Galaxy S II LTE

The Samsung Galaxy S II LTE
Image credit:

For what it’s worth, the features of the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S II LTE include:

  • 4. 5 inch Super AMOLED touch display
  • GSM/WCDMA/LTE network support
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
  • 1.5 [GHz] dual core processor
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 1850 mAh battery
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread

In the spirit of full disclosure, I hope to grab one of these beauties the instant that a related model comes out on the Verizon Wireless network.  Rumor has it that the object of my lust will be out on VZW sometime this fall.

Ms. Erwin’s post does a good job of enumerating the challenges, including security, lack of available spectrum, lack of global standards and, let’s face it, organizational inertia.  It’s well worth a read.

However daunting it may seem, though, it’s our job to do the hard engineering required to bring these state of the art capabilities to the military and first responders.

1 Response to My Toys are Better than the US Army’s Toys

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