Navy to build net infrastructure in Tidewater area

The Navy has placed an order with Lucent Technologies Inc. to build a metropolitan area
network in Norfolk, Va., under the $2.9 billion Voice, Video and Data program.


Ultimately, the Navy would like the MAN to give Army, Navy and Air Force installations
a single infrastructure for voice and data services in what the Defense Department calls
the Tidewater region.


The region is home to many DOD commands, including the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet
headquarters, the Air Force’s Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base and the
Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe.


The Navy awarded VIVID contracts to Lucent, of Murray Hill, N.J., and GTE Government
Systems Corp. of Needham, Mass., last summer.


The Navy alone has more than 350 commands in the Tidewater region that use 143 LANs and
28,719 PCs. Of Tidewater’s 61 telephone switches, 43 are on Navy bases that support
about 67,639 telephone lines for approximately 123,000 Naval personnel. Of the 43
switches, 30 are Lucent public branch exchange switches.


Other Navy commands in the area use more than 2,100 systems, which increases the number
of maintenance and administrative Navy personnel needed to support service telephone
systems.


“We can be much more efficient than we are,” said Cmdr. Steve Vetter, special
assistant to the Navy’s chief information officer. “What we’re asking
Lucent to do is very simple: apply industry expertise to the situation.”


The Navy organizations currently procure telecommunications resources independently,
which results in duplication in architectures and services, according to a report the Navy
posted on its CIO Web site.


“As a result, telecommunications resources are not optimized—in costs or
operations—and commands are not experiencing the full potential that could exist if a
common infrastructure was adopted,” the report concluded.


Aggregate bandwidth requirements for voice and data are already exceeding the
capabilities of the decentralized infrastructure, the report said. Centralized services,
however, such as the consolidated Non-Classified IP Router Network, the Secret IP Router
Network and Internet access would give the commands enhanced capabilities that are
expensive to buy piecemeal, the report said.


The Norfolk effort is part of a larger Navy initiative to develop an enterprisewide
infrastructure to achieve better economies of scale, Vetter said. The Navy must use
systems integration skills developed by vendors such as Lucent, who can do the work more
cheaply, he said.


An integrated product team, spearheaded by Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc. of McLean,
Va., surveyed Norfolk’s information technology infrastructure, including switches,
cable plants, videoconferencing systems and information assurance programs. The IPT
collected the data late last year and released the Tidewater MAN report in February.


In a MAN requirements document, the IPT identified minimum bandwidth requirements for
the various commands in the Tidewater region. The throughput requirements range from as
little as 23 Mbps for the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek to as much as 603 Mbps for
the Commander-in-Chief Office of the Atlantic Fleet.


According to the Tidewater MAN report, many of the commands said they would increase
their bandwidth demands if more bandwidth became available. Bandwidth demand for
unclassified applications, such as voice, e-mail, fax, file transfer and NIPRNet access,
outweighs the demand for classified apps, the report said.


Lucent will base its preliminary design, due to the Navy by November, on the Booz,
Allen study and government data. A Lucent spokeswoman said it was too early to say what
form the MAN might take.


“We’re really just in the notional stages and probably two months away from
having a preliminary design,” said Linda Edgerton, media relations manager for
Lucent’s government solutions organization in Greensboro, N.C.


Originally, Lucent planned to submit a MAN design to the Navy this month, but the
vendor and the service got off to a shaky start, Edgerton said.


“We had a couple of misstarts,” Vetter said. “The key was developing an
industry-government team, and the bottom line was we, government, did not know how to team
effectively, and we kept reverting back to telling industry what to do.”


The integrated product team has discussed the creation of a joint MAN with the other
services. But making a business case for the multiservice MAN will have to wait until
Lucent completes its MAN design, Navy officials said.


The Navy could establish the MAN on its own, focusing exclusively on Naval
infrastructure in the region, Navy officials said. But Naval commands face unknowns in
building MANs: information security, control and autonomy issues, inadequate base-level
cabling and cost, Vetter said.

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