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Bandwidth increasing for some bases

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (May 20, 2003) -- The Department of Defense is planning to beef up Internet access at 92 military installations by the end of fiscal 2004 as part of the global information grid bandwidth expansion project.

A little over a third of those installations will be Air Force bases, said John M. Gilligan, the service's chief information officer.

So many of the installations are Air Force bases because the service supports many different intelligence facilities and headquarters’ organizations, Gilligan said. The bases include larger locations inside the continental United States and a number of installations overseas.

"Overseas bases are the ones that are most critical, where it is a little harder to get bandwidth," Gilligan said. "We can always get bandwidth within the United States. You just have to buy (it)."

Bandwidth is a term used to describe the amount of information that can be transferred over a network. Networks made of copper wire, such as telephone lines, are considerably slower than those made entirely of fiber-optic cable.

The purpose of the expansion project is to get enough fiber-optic connections to the selected bases to support a transmission rate of about 10 gigabits per second, Gilligan said. In practical terms, this means the bases will get a transmission rate of almost two CD-ROMs’ worth of data per second.

"Bandwidth will cease to be a constraint (for the bases when the project is complete),” Gilligan said. “That is really the objective."

Rather than install or lease new fiber-optic lines, Gilligan said DOD will buy fiber-optic cables that are already in the ground. Owning the network will provide some benefit to the military.

"The network will be much more secure and much more robust,” Gilligan said. “That is kind of the reason we put this effort together."

Another part of the project is ensuring those 92 bases are wired for redundancy, he said. At some locations today, there may be only one line providing Internet capability to an entire installation. If for some reason that line were severed, the entire base would lose connectivity. The expansion project will ensure bases have multiple points of entry for network connectivity.

"That way, if you lose one link, you will have other links available," Gilligan said.