another case in point. Here the goal is to allow untrained purchasers to set up their own radio links within minutes after opening the packing cartons.
It is understood that the military operates under a number of restrictions on its use of RF spectrum and that these restrictions can complicate the planning and deployment of wireless networks. It is important to realize, though, that the commercial world operates under restrictions nearly as onerous. A great many of the Navy's planning and configuration problems are simply self-imposed (e.g., time-slot planning for JTIDS networks), and one can reasonably expect that commercial technology would be far simpler and more flexible than that of existing tactical radio systems.
Last but not least, a tactical communications system imposes certain requirements that are either unique to the military or far more stringent than their commercial analogs. Obvious examples include the ability to continue functioning in the presence of jamming (antijam) and low probabilities of interception or detection.
In general, commercial equipment is engineered without significant effort in these areas and hence cannot be directly employed in adverse tactical environments. On the other hand, some types of commercial wireless equipment inherently provide certain capabilities in this area, almost by accident as it were. For instance, point-to-point, free-air communications—and in particular optical links—are generally somewhat difficult to jam, unless by interposed obscurants, because they are highly directional. Similarly, commercial spread-spectrum systems offer a modest degree of protection against jamming and indeed somewhat lower the probabilities of detection or interception. It is conceivable that these levels of protection may prove adequate in some tactical scenarios. By and large, though, unmodified commercial technology is not suitable for tactical uses.
Perhaps surprisingly, commercial equipment performs particularly well in encryption and information assurance. Many vendors can supply wireless equipment that supports both link encryption and end-to-end data encryption. The commercially supplied encryption mechanisms are in general reasonably good and can often be readily replaced or augmented with military-grade encryption mechanisms as needed.
On the whole, then, the Navy should expect to devote resources to satisfying the purely military needs in wireless communications. However, existing commercial equipment often provides an excellent starting point for these modifications. In general, the Navy would be best served by adapting current state-of-the-art commercial wireless equipment to meet its tactical needs rather than engineering entirely new systems.