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[ISN] Army marches toward VOIP


By John Rendleman

The Army plans to migrate all of its circuit-switched voice 
communications to packet-switched voice-over-IP technology, said Col. 
Scot Miller, head of the organization that builds and runs the Armys 
global telecommunications network.

The transition to VOIP, implementation of a unified communications 
architecture and the movement to centralize IT applications in area 
processing centers are the three primary initiatives that will dominate 
the agenda of the Armys networking group for the foreseeable future, 
Miller said.

The primary advantages of VOIP compared to the older technology it will 
replace are that it will let the Army carry voice and data traffic on a 
single converged network in addition to supporting a variety of new 
services that combine the Armys other business and military applications 
with voice calling and messaging, said Miller, who is project manager of 
Defense Communications and Army Switched Systems.

Although the Defense Department may not authorize the use of VOIP for 
the Armys crucial command-and-control traffic for another year or two, 
its a guarantee that were going to go to an all voice-over-IP construct, 
Miller said during a presentation to the American Council for 
Technology/Industry Advisory Council in Arlington, Va.

The Defense Information Systems Agency, as the lead agency responsible 
for the Pentagons networks and IT systems, is evaluating VOIP to assess 
whether it meets the strict availability and operational standards that 
are necessary before it can be used to carry command-and-control voice 
calls for the military. DISA likely wont approve the use of end-to-end 
VOIP technology until 2009 or 2010, Miller added.

In the meantime, the Army is preparing for its migration to VOIP with a 
small pilot of the technology and has started, on a small scale, to 
install VOIP-enabled circuit switches at network hubs. As it introduces 
initial VOIP capabilities into the network, the Army will start to allow 
noncommand-and-control users to subscribe to VOIP services but will 
preserve circuit switching in significant portions of its voice 
infrastructure to support command-and-control calls, according to 

In the second phase implementation, the Army will extend VOIP 
availability by installing VOIP equipment in local-area networks on Army 
installations and gradually supplant circuit-switched calling with VOIP. 
When it becomes technically feasible, command-and-control users will be 
allowed to subscribe to VOIP services, Miller said.

In the third and final implementation phase, the Army will install VOIP 
equipment in all of its networking hubs and outlying installations, 
eliminating the last of its circuit-switched gear and completing the 
transition of all users to VOIP, Miller said.

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