The Naval Air Systems Command plans to test commercial broadband communications technologies on three of its fleet’s ships this coming year, Nextgov reports.
NAVAIR plans to install the 4G long-term evolution cellular systems on its USS Kearsarge, USS San Antonio and the USS Whidbey Island ships.
NAVAIR will additionally supply shipboard crews with Android-powered smartphones.
Reston, Va.-based firm Oceus Networks is providing the 4G NAVAIR systems, according to John Cooper, NAVAIR’s program manager for 4G systems.
Oceus Chief Operating Officer Randy Fuerst said the system includes Ericsson-provided cellular base stations and necessary software to manage the network.
Larry Hollingsworth, the command’s national director for avionics, told Nextgov that using commercial technology allows the Navy to take advantage of the global mobile phone industry’s research investments.
Hollingsworth said the Navy can use its funds to add unique security requirements to existing systems instead of building an entirely new one.
Cooper said the system will have an initial throughput of eight-to-15 megabits per second but will eventually be able to conduct throughput at a gigabit per second after gear is upgraded.
The systems will provide ships with 15 to 20 mile line-of-sight range, which could be extended to 30 miles with a base station installed on a Marine H-1 helicopter, Cooper said.
The 4G base stations will support communications for 200 Marines and sailors deployed with the Kearsarge ready group, equipped with Android devices, Hollingsworth said.
The phones include built-in cameras and GPS capabilities, allowing commanders to track them.
Hollingsworth said the devices could potentially replace multiple radios, cameras and GPS systems currently used for operations.
Hollingsworth said the system supports a variety of data and will free up limited satellite bandwidth.
The system will support unclassified information transmissions and eventually classified information as well with security enhancements, Cooper said.