DISA plans bandwidth expansion to 10 Gbps

A key component in the Defense Department's transformation plans is its project to increase communications capacity'by name, the Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion.

Through GIG-BE, a joint effort led by the Defense Information Systems Agency, DOD will build a worldwide, ground-based network with 10-Gbps OC-192 connections.

Plans call for delivering the network first to about 90 locations and eventually to all of DOD, said Army Col. Robert R. Horback, GIG-BE program manager.

'What's going on in those [initial] locations is significantly important to the transformation of the department,' said John Osterholz, DOD's director of architecture and interoperability.

'Knitting those together as the initial step will take about two years, between 2003 and 2004,' he said. 'That will provide us with the initial base for network-centric operations not only in the United States but in the Pacific and European theaters.'

The 90 target sites are somewhat flexible. 'As we develop the project, there may be adjustments,' Horback said. 'We may trade off some sites.'

GIG-BE will be built on the Defense Information System Network, which currently supports 45-Mbps Digital Signal 3 and 155-Mbps OC-3 throughput.

The bandwidth jump to 10-Gbps supports Defense's goal of transforming itself to a military grounded in IT, with a high-bandwidth network that allows physically diverse access. 'Where we are today, we're not physically diverse,' Horback said.

Many wavelengths

DISA will use dense wavelength division multiplexing to combine classified and unclassified IP and asynchronous transfer mode transmissions on the OC-192 fiber.

DWDM lets signals from different sources travel simultaneously on the same optical fiber because each has its own wavelength. A single optical fiber can carry up to 80 wavelengths under DWDM, combining IP, asynchronous transfer mode and Synchronous Optical Network data.

Horback said DISA will use existing fiber when possible. The project will start by 'leveraging existing assets to begin building out the infrastructure,' he said, but will add cabling where it's needed and invest in optical technology such as switches and amplifiers.

'There will be a significant upgrade in equipment,' he said.

Total procurement costs have been set at $877 million, but he said there are too many variables to put an exact figure on the project at this point.

Horback said the goal is to provide IP services, including transmissions on DOD's Non-Classified and Secret IP router networks, with enough capacity to accommodate all of the department's transformational plans.

Although wireless communications figure in DOD's overall vision, this technology is not part of the GIG-BE project, which Horback described as 'a terrestrial network.'

GIG-BE has the backing of DOD chieftains, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence.

DISA has issued two requests for information, one concentrating on equipment and technology, the other on fiber. Horback said DISA got good a response to the requests and is evaluating the information. He said DISA will issue solicitations next year.

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