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Interoperability key to giving warfighters the edge in battle

August 28, 2009 at 11:13 am PST

The TANDBERG Public Sector team has been at the 22nd Annual Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC) this week in Montgomery, AL, where the focus has been “The warfighter’s edge in battle.”

The consistent theme we’ve heard at the conference and show is that interoperability and speed of communication are two of the largest determining factors in whether a warfighter wins or loses.  

TANDBERG products are built with interoperability in mind, and speed of communication is one of the reasons why our products are in high demand in many government agencies and organizations…certainly the US military. 

Needless to say, we were pleased when Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer (SAF/XC) announced that TANDBERG will be the first Air Force vendor to go through the new agency-wide reciprocity initiative. This initiative provides a systematic process for ensuring timely reciprocity of a DoD IS/IT from one of the Services, COCOMS or DoD agencies to another. This speeds up approval times, which can take 12 to 18 months, and allows, for example, the Army to adopt technologies that have received approval from the Air Force and vice versa.

This initiative will save time and money, and get resources to the warfighter much faster. We are happy to be the first case study for this initiative, and excited that our solutions will be empowering and protecting the best armed forces in the world. Just goes to show that a standards-based solution can transcend any communication barrier.

Bridge the digital divide: bring on the broadband

August 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm PST

Access to the Internet at high speeds – for telecommuting, accessing data or using video conferencing technology – is something that most of us take for granted, but millions of Americans still don’t have. 

According to a study conducted by Communications Workers of America (CWA), the United States still lags far behind other countries in terms of broadband speeds. Their Speed Matters study shows that speeds in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are faster (as high as 9.9 megabits per second [mgps] in Delaware), but speeds in the South and in rural areas were markedly slower (as low as 2.6 mgps in Ohio).

The Obama Administration is working to address that disparity, which leaves Americans in unserved and underserved communities at a distinct disadvantage. The first step is the $7.2 billion offered by the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), along with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) efforts to expand broadband access across the United States through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Initiatives Program. They hope the efforts will increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.

Another important step will be the National Broadband Plan, which is being created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It is set to be unveiled in February, and the FCC is looking for input from Americans now. They want to hear how we define broadband and what we expect to see in a plan. They have already asked for comment from Americans and will be holding an open meeting this week to ask for more input.

This is the time for all of us who use and appreciate high broadband speeds to take the time to share our ideas of how to bridge the digital divide in America. What services and access do you have in your personal and professional life that others could benefit from? How fast is fast enough when it comes to broadband access speeds?

Video Conferencing is Helping Schools Get Smarter

Engaging the current generation of students who have been raised on technology can be a challenge to say the least. But some innovative schools are harnessing students’ advanced knowledge and love of tech tools to implement creative teaching methods with tools like SMART Boards to teach math and reading, Nintendo Wiis to promote fitness, and video conferencing to connect students to anyone and anyplace in the world for unlimited learning opportunities.

In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Anthony Rubet, a student at Andrew Street High School in Munhall, PA, said, “Last year, we talked to NASA as they were getting ready to go to Mars.”

Another opportunity cited is the possibility that students can take classes that may not be offered at their own schools -- Mandarin for example -- through distance education over video conferencing with another school that teaches it.

“You can do anything you want,” said Luther Parrish, a student at Andrew Street. “Say someone wants to talk to an engineer; you can find one.”

Watch this video to see how students in Stamford, TX are learning and teaching others with video conferencing:

Live from LandWarNet — keeping the warfighter connected

August 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm PST

The theme of Army LandWarNet here in Ft. Lauderdale is: A Global Network Enterprise Enabling Full Spectrum Operations for the Joint Warfighter. That’s a mouthful; and, from what I’ve seen, that theme has played out to mean: giving the warfighter the infrastructure needed to ensure that he or she has the ability to communicate with the rest of the world from anywhere in the world.

That encompasses communications within the Army and with all of the branches of the military, Joint Forces and Coalition Forces, among others. Technology has changed the way warfare is conducted, and coalitions have changed the make-up of the forces involved. Army LandWarNet recognizes that expanded focus and this year’s show goes far beyond basic communications.

A great example is a product that fills a niche in the very unique requirements of the Army combatant. Fortified DataCom showcased a portable and easily deployable antenna system that allows a combatant to carry his or her communications “network” in a backpack. Once in the field, the soldier sets up the company’s backpack-sized antenna system, connects with satellite communications and has data and voice communications capability in less than 10 minutes.

Finding a way to keep the warfighter connected while in the battlefield will continue to be a challenge for the Army and other branches. Watching how initiatives are born and offerings are developed to meet those evolving communications needs is fascinating.

Bob Largent, director of customer relationships, TANDBERG public sector

Maximizing the Value of Video Conferencing and Telepresence Through Interoperability

Imagine if you couldn’t call a friend with a Verizon cell phone because you use AT&T. Seems ridiculous, right? Obviously that defeats the purpose of trying to be connected from anywhere with your cell phone because you wouldn’t be able to reach everyone you need to. Well this scenario is actually a reality in the realm of visual communications today.

While some vendors have embraced open standards that allow third party video conferencing and telepresence products to work together, or interoperate, others have not. It’s easy to see that as adoption rates grow for this technology, it’s not sustainable for businesses to purchase equipment that will only let them talk to themselves or those with the same kind of equipment.

In fact, industry analysts at Frost & Sullivan recently released a report, Maximizing the Value of Telepresence: Interoperability is Key to Success, in which they recommend,

“As companies evaluate and deploy a telepresence solution, they should pay particular attention to interoperability. For maximum value, the telepresence technology must integrate with other video conferencing systems, inside and outside their own organization, and regardless of the vendor providing the given solution.”

We agree that visual communication is about creating open communities and providing face-to-face access to anyone. Watch this video to see what we mean: