DARPA starts work on new comm network

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing a prototype system that integrates free-space optical and radio frequency communications in a single network.

The Optical and Radio Frequency Combined Link Experiment, or ORCLE, combines optical communications technology'which transmits data via lasers'with radio signals and network management software to ensure a reliable network, according to a statement released by DARPA.

Optical transmissions provide high bandwidth but can be disrupted by obstacles such as rain clouds; radio transmissions would serve as a backup.

'ORCLE promises a huge increase in the amount of information available to the warfighter on the battlefield,' said Stephen Griggs, DARPA's program manager for ORCLE. 'A reliable, high-data-rate, timely means of taking this information from its source to the person needing it is one of the weakest links in the chain.'

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