U.S.S. Kearsarge  (Source:
In addition to the WWAN, the sailors will receive Android smartphones to deliver the critical information over the network

The U.S. Navy is stepping into the 21st century with the first-ever 4G LTE wireless network being placed on three ships.

Currently, the Navy uses satellites for connectivity across large oceans. Bandwidth is an expensive and scarce asset, and when sailors use recreational computers, it's usually limited to dial-up type speeds.

However, this is all about to change as the Navy plans to deploy a microwave-based wireless wide area network (WWAN) on three different ships. The 4G LTE network will be placed on the U.S.S. Kearsarge, which is an amphibious assault ship; U.S.S. San Antonio, an amphibious transport dock; and U.S.S. Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship.

The network will allow sailors to send real-time data like text, photos and videos easily. While the network is faster at 300 megabits of data per second, it can't replace satellites because it only works from distances of up to 20 nautical miles. While this can't keep a fleet connected, it can keep a naval task force connected.

The network is being provided by Indiana-based BATS Wireless along with Oceus and Cambium. The idea behind the network is to allow sailors to board an ersatz vessel hijacked by pirates and send real-time data back to the "mothership."

"What we've collectively developed is a ruggedized, ocean-going LTE network similar to what you'd find with telecom providers like Verizon or AT&T," said Phillip Cramer, a vice president at BATS wireless. "The biggest difference being that it can expand, contract, and move seamlessly; delivering critical data and communications to the soldiers who need it most."

In addition to the WWAN, the sailors will receive Android smartphones to deliver the critical information over the network. The Navy went with Google's Android-powered devices because they are cheaper than other options and can be secured to transfer classified information. The U.S. Army uses Android devices as well.

This is the Navy's first dip into the mobile world. There will be a sea trial for the new network at an undisclosed time.

Source: Wired

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