FAA quantifies growing need for bandwidth

FAA quantifies growing need for bandwidth

The Federal Aviation Administration has been loading more work onto its worldwide Agency Data Telecommunications Network 2000, because 'the world is going to Web-enabled applications,' said Clint Turnipseed, a computer specialist at FAA's Aviation Systems Standards unit in Oklahoma City.

'It's good to know what new applications are going to do' to the administrative WAN, Turnipseed said.

'Bandwidth costs money,' said Mark Wheatley, a senior analyst for Advancia Corp. of Oklahoma City, which helps manage the administrative network. 'The government has less money to work with and just can't throw bandwidth' at problems.

To get a handle on bandwidth demand and the impact of new applications, the agency has begun using Opnet Modeler from Opnet Technologies Inc. of Bethesda, Md. Modeler lets administrators monitor traffic, find current problems and forecast needs.

'We can put in real-time data to get an accurate look at how the network is doing, not how we think it's doing,' Wheatley said.

The administrative IP network is separate from FAA's operational network that handles air traffic control. ADTN 2000 serves 120 field sites plus overseas sites in Singapore and Brussels.

ADTN 2000 runs over an AT&T Corp. backbone with multiple T1 links for five core nodes. Nine regional nodes, plus nodes at Oklahoma City headquarters and Washington, serve the field sites with a single link each.

'It's a pretty complicated model to try to build,' Turnipseed said.

Wheatley has been working for four months on the initial model FAA will use for troubleshooting and testing. 'Each portion of the model is only as good as the information put into it,' he said. Luckily for him, each office has a standard configuration that varies only by number of workstations.

While the ADTN 2000 model is still under construction, the Opnet application capture agents are already tracing packet routes across the network. 'The trace tells us exactly where a bottleneck is and helps pinpoint problems,' Wheatley said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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