Powerful forces of private-sector competition and an onslaught of technical advances are propelling the United States into a telecommunications renaissance era. In every sector-wireless, wireline, local and long distance, video and Internet-more services are being delivered at lower prices and higher bandwidth.
The U.S. Army is on the verge of deploying technologies that will enhance and extend the scope of information-based warfare by linking all echelons together. These devices and systems are part of a larger effort to assure future warfighters battlefield superiority.
The U.S. Army's mobile signal brigade is moving at a faster pace with smaller, more capable hardware that can be deployed rapidly into a theater of operations. The increasing propensity for diverse missions set in foreign lands is impelling the requirement for comprehensive communications systems that can be established quickly in unfamiliar, or even hostile, settings.
Faced with a burgeoning humanitarian crisis amid a virtually nonexistent communications infrastructure, Australian peacekeeping forces worked with private industry to establish a broadband network in the heart of East Timor that included connectivity with other peacekeepers as well as their own national headquarters in Australia.
Creation of a national operations and analysis hub is finding grudging acceptance among senior officials in the U.S. national security community. This fresh intelligence mechanism would link federal agencies to provide instant collaborative threat profiling and analytical assessments for use against asymmetrical threats. National policy makers, military commanders and law enforcement agencies would be beneficiaries of the hub's information.
Uncertainty surrounding a patchwork of commercial information security products hurriedly placed in use on U.S. Defense Department computers and networks is reshaping policy. Successful test and evaluation of these products in specified laboratories will soon become a prerequisite for procurement by military services and defense agencies.
As evaluation policy emerges, the National Security Agency (NSA) is embarking separately on a major long-term program to modernize the inventory of high-grade cryptographic devices. The new cryptography will exploit technology to keep pace with modern communications as bandwidth applications change.
To protect information systems from security breeches, organizations increasingly are embracing a comprehensive strategy that relies on both technology and enforced policies. Meanwhile, the legal system has been hard pressed to keep pace with information system protection issues, leaving many questions unanswered about how far businesses may go to protect their systems.
Jim Robbins, the Harvard-educated president of one of the nation's largest cable companies, was in southern California on a business trip when he decided to check his voice mail and got the stunning news that America Online had agreed to merge with Time Warner. The deal was not only the largest of its kind but one that promises to reshape how executives in a wide range of telecommunications businesses view the concept of convergence.
A unique flying antenna testbed plays a significant role in the development and integration of battlefield information networks and communications nodes. Moreover, this aircraft's primary function is to support airborne communications transition to production and fusion into new command and control networks.
U.S. Joint Forces Command is harnessing the power of extensible markup language to lash together three capabilities and to facilitate collaboration between intelligence and operations activities. If successful, the integrated capability would increase an individual warfighter's ability to control intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and share targeting information, reducing the time between target identification and strike from minutes to seconds. Integration of those capabilities is in the experimental stage, but the project's director is encouraged by the initial results and believes it could eventually lead to humans on instead of in the targeting-strike loop.