Insight by Ribbon

The Tactical Edge helps agencies stay more connected

This content is provided by Ribbon.

Think about the experience of flying overseas. As you land and taxi to the gate, you power up your mobile phone and try to get on the local network. After a few prompts and a decision or two about what international data plan you want, you’re off and running. Generally speaking, this is everyone’s expectation when traveling to a foreign location – your mobile phone provider has all of the technology issues figured out, making the transition easy. Equally as important, callers don’t need to know where you are – they dial your number and your phone rings.

Consider the same scenario for civilian or military personnel as they seek out secure, fixed line communications when they are temporarily assigned to a foreign office/location. Yes, there are ways to get their “primary” office calls ringing at a new location but it requires navigating a sea of administrative and configuration burdens. It means pre-planning each deployment, including getting a separate in-country number assigned for their temporary office. The new in-country number has to be “glued” together with the user’s primary office number, creating headaches for the user and the people trying to reach them (different numbers in different directories, etc.). It easy to see why users would prefer the mobile phone model where the same number automatically stays with them as they move around the globe.

Unfortunately, today, most of the phone networks in the federal government are still “old school” – a prior generation technology. Some sites have been updated to modern, voice over IP (VoIP) systems but it’s a site by site deployment, they are not part of a common voice network. While cloud-based technologies would solve much of this (and those technologies are coming), security and deployment costs remain a challenge.

So, what’s the ideal scenario? Ribbon believes the answer is based on a concept of “Service Anywhere” – a cloud-based communications network that gives users plug and play access to secure fixed-line communications – that just work. It shouldn’t be that hard, we are already able to plug our computers in and get secure access to e-mail so why are voice services so different? Ribbon believes that voice communications should offer that same Service Anywhere model.  It would offer tremendous benefits including:

  • Deployments from location to location. Both civilian and military personnel would have a single phone number that follows them wherever they go.
    • It’s easy for co-workers to find them in a common directory.
    • It makes staff more accessible to internal & external constituents.
  • Tactical deployments. Temporary comms can be set up and moved with relative ease.

This type of a solution is possible today, pending US Federal security certifications. Ribbon Communications, a leader in mission critical communication networks, voice security, and optical technologies, is in the process of deploying Ribbon’s Service Anywhere technology to enable nomadic users across the globe. This network will offer a world-wide deployment of interconnected, private cloud-based voice infrastructure, with a common, distributed, database of users.

Ribbon’s global communications network will further benefit military environments. Ribbon has developed a small footprint ‘tactical’ communications platform that can be rapidly deployed in field environments to deliver a local instance of its cloud communications services. Ribbon calls it Tactical Edge –it’s a micro PBX (for call control) and Session Border Controller -SBC (for security and bandwidth efficiency) running on a rugged but compact ‘tactical’ platform. Ribbon’s Tactical Edge quickly connects to the wider global network via fixed line, satellite, or similar uplink technologies. The Tactical Edge is an extension of Ribbon’s Service Anywhere environment. When the Tactical Edge is deployed, any local numbers are registered to the nearest Ribbon core server. The registration information is then securely shared so that calls can be routed to their destination without requiring manual pre-deployment network or system configuration. That means the user’s phone number travels with them, even to a tent in the middle of a combat zone. It’s a major step forward in communications portability for defense networks – a step forward that can benefit many civilian agencies that need highly secure and mobile communications networks that can be rapidly deployed anywhere. (e.g. An agency managing a quickly unfolding humanitarian crisis or a team investigating a serious accident.)

Using Ribbon’s new paradigm of Service Anywhere, let’s look at a variation on the opening scenario. Imagine a government employee, stationed at the Pentagon, getting on a plane to a distant location. The individual will arrive at the new location and securely log into any available phone. As soon as they login their user profile, phone number, and all their voice services are available at the remote location. Neither the user nor the remote location’s administrator reconfigured anything. No matter where the user connects, they will have the same seamless experience. Powerful, secure and simple.

Ribbon enables agile deployment of communication environments, affording users greater mobility and faster access to mission critical information, without sacrificing security or staff resources.

Learn more about how Ribbon is supporting civilian and defense agencies at our website here.

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