The United States Navy is going 4G LTE, according to a Wired report. No, the Navy is not rebranding itself as the Navy 4G LTE, but the military branch will offer service members aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge, U.S.S. San Antonio, and U.S.S. Whidbey Island the ability to connect to a 4G LTE network while aboard the ships. The LTE network is a supplement to, and not a replacement of existing satellite-based technologies the Navy relies on, but rather serves to give non-essential communications a boost. The network will go live later this year.
In the past, sailors on Navy ships have relied on often slower than dial-up network connection speeds on non-essential systems such as recreational computers, making it difficult if not impossible to meaningfully connect with loved ones back home or transmit information between soldiers on Navy missions. Now, sailors with LTE-capable smartphones will be able to access broadband speeds akin to those offered by AT&T and Verizon’s 4G LTE cellular networks stateside. The Navy intends for the networks to be used for Naval mission purposes, such as sending real-time data including video to the mothership while boarding a vessel hijacked by pirates, though we suspect it will also be used for services such as Skype or Google Talk’s video chat to connect with friends and family members while serving overseas.
The network in total will provide about 300 megabits per second of data speeds, enough for several people to share video files, as well as text and voice communications. Of course, multiple people accessing the network at the same time will slow down data speeds, and perhaps fairly significantly, but it’s definitely much better than the sub-dial-up speeds they were accustomed to before.
The Navy will be purchasing Android smartphones and tablets for soldiers’ use, and will work with the National Security Agency to lock down the store-bought devices so that they can safely transmit confidential information. You have to admit it’s pretty cool to see the U.S. Armed Services embracing mobile technology while serving abroad.