DOD mobile satellite, radio communications will use 3G

DOD mobile satellite, radio communications will use 3G

Third-generation wireless chip designs and software for the Defense Department's narrowband satellite communications and joint tactical radios will be ready within about 18 months, InterDigital Communications Corp.'s Rip Tilden said today.

Tilden, InterDigital's chief operating officer, said the Valley Forge, Pa., company is designing the 3G wireless technology for General Dynamics C4 Systems of Scottsdale, Ariz., which is part of a multivendor team led by the prime Mobile User Objective System satellite contractor, Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif.

The Navy chose Lockheed in September for the $3 billion MUOS deal. The first of the narrowband tactical communications satellites is supposed to launch around 2010.

General Dynamics holds a separate $295 million contract for the software-programmable Joint Tactical Radio System.

The so-called 3G commercial wireless technology now being built out around the world has tremendous bandwidth, Tilden said'up to 10 times as much as current cellular networks. '3G will combine very-high-quality voice with simultaneous moving images,' he said. 'Warfighters can get lots more information about troop and enemy locations and equipment, at high speed in real time.'

InterDigital has been designing wireless technology for about 30 years, he said. It licenses 3G designs to about three dozen makers of wireless handsets and base stations worldwide.

'We don't make the chips,' Tilden added. 'We're delivering most of our [software and design] deliverables to General Dynamics over the next 12 to 18 months' under an $18.5 million subcontract. The 3G technology will follow the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access standard, he said.

'DOD will make the final decisions on the form factors' of the MUOS and JTRS handsets using 3G technology, Tilden said.

MUOS satellites will eventually replace the current narrowband tactical satellites known as UFOs, for ultra-high-frequency follow-on. But the MUOS birds must remain backwards-compatible with the military's legacy satellite terminals.


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