US Army wants soldiers to have advanced smartphones, wireless technology


McCarthy says Army technical analysts supervising the tests have been encouraged by what they've seen with xG's "cognitive radio" gear which enables "frequency hopping" by continually searching for unused frequency spectrum, a technique that McCarthy says appears to reduce interference problems. The xG equipment provides voice and data, supporting approximately 4MB for each smartphone user, though it is dependent on the number of users and the distance from a base station.

"Our target going forward is to hit 35 kilometers from the base station," says McCarthy about the Army's ideas for how it might set up a network of portable base stations on the go. The Army would like to be able to transport wireless radio base station equipment of some type to wherever it's needed, quickly setting up and tearing down a network for smartphones for assigned military frequencies.

The Amy appears to be the first among the U.S. military services to take this much interest in using smartphones, though the Air Force and Navy are motivated as well, says McCarthy. He adds U.S. allies, such as NATO partners, also have "significant interest."

But can commercial smartphones really meet the Army's security and operational requirements?

The Army is working to find out, checking out about 1,200 phones and other devices (including about 15 basic models of iPhones and iPads, , and Mobile). "The folks at HP are coming out with a Web OS and they will send me some devices to test," says McCarthy.