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Dedicated networks to support defence operational activities

For organisation with mission-critical operations, traditional approaches are under serious challenge by the reality there is no “one size fits all” network.

For organisation with mission-critical operations, traditional approaches are under serious challenge by the reality there is no “one size fits all” network.

Legacy technology choices, solution design and procurement of telecommunications are all being disrupted by the demands for greater control and customisation for mission-critical operations. From a network architecture and planning perspective,  this means an acknowledgement of the discrete differences between:

  • Standard enterprise-grade information technology (IT) networking to support general enterprise activity; and 
  • Customised industrial-grade operations technology (OT) underpinning the requirements of mission-critical core activities. OT typically requires access to the telco network at the physical layer and at the same level that the telco uses to create IT networks. 

As an investor, owner and operator of sovereign, nationally-scaled and secure network and facilities for both the Department of Defence and the eco-system of global defence prime systems integrators, Vocus makes a clear distinction between the specialised engineering requirements of operational activities as opposed to connectivity to support highly commoditised enterprise applications.

This reality is now widely recognised in industries such as mining, energy, and oil and gas, where there is an increasing reliance on automation and remote operations to deliver efficiency and productivity dividends to shareholders. Customers in these industries are now designing and purchasing solutions from a mix of network and technology choices based on specific OT use cases and not broader, generic corporate IT requirements.

It appears that tactical capability for military use cases warrant a similar approach for these ‘special’ networks.

OT is defined by dedicated, mission-critical traffic flows to – or within – a small number of core destinations often supported by dedicated local access technologies.  A general characteristic of OT is that it can exist outside of standard IT control and management practices. 

Our approach is to adopt non-proprietary and agnostic views on the types of access technologies and applications that may best address nominated OT use cases supported by sovereign, secure, reliable and efficient core terrestrial and subsea network infrastructure. 

It’s critical that OT networks have deep knowledge of the lowest layers on the telco network so that they can be designed for high resilience, security and failover states. OT requirements for mission-critical operations cannot be a second-order priority to a telco’s other business drivers.

Networking in general, with massive capacity increases in fibre, low-earth orbit (LEO) and private 5G networks in particular, are now evolving at a rate that can match the emerging OT applications and functionality deployed by customers. 

Through our partnering arrangements for access technologies, Vocus seeks to provide its defence customers with integrated and purpose-built network solutions using innovative commercial and charging structures to ensure cost effective, reliable and trusted outcomes.

The partnering arrangements that combine Vocus’ national network footprint with discrete, campus-based or site-specific access coverage include the following:

  • Becoming the ground infrastructure partner of choice for sovereign satellite capability and global LEO operators, as well as underlying SATCOM distribution agreements with these providers, such as the recently announced Vocus contract with OneWeb in December 2021; 
  • Enhancing wireless and RF capability through a long-term alliance framework with Challenge Networks, one of Australia’s leading private LTE design, construct and operate providers; and
  • Ongoing relationships, and a continuous network development agenda, with vendors such as Nokia, for the optimisation of optical and wireless solutions to address emerging requirements.

These relationships can be integrated with our infrastructure reach, monitoring and maintenance capabilities to provide a single point of network accountability to reduce contract and interfacing risks against guaranteed service levels and operational outcomes. This approach offers the defence sector with targeted, best-of-breed service delivery outcomes that provides greater:

  • Flexibility in the selection of suppliers, networks and functionality;
  • Transparency over key network cost inputs;
  • Levels of specialisation and capability across the full network value chain; and
  • Alignment with the underlying structure of the telecommunications sector, where there is a clear separation between the physical network and the provision of over-the-top services, most clearly demonstrated through the adoption of cloud-based applications. 

For more on how Vocus is ensuring mission success with communication systems that are secure and highly available, visit vocus.com.au/defence.

 

Dedicated networks to support defence operational activities
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