Kevin Kelly, recently named CEO of LGS Innovations, talked with WashingtonExec about technology and wireless networks in the military. Kelly also reflects on the release of LGS’ Rapidly Deployable Network (RDN) and its significance to the company.
WashingtonExec: There is an interesting story around the corporate lineage of LGS Innovations. Can you discuss that?
Kevin Kelly: LGS Innovations solves the most complex networking and communications challenges facing the U.S. Federal Government. Building on its Bell Labs heritage of serving the US government for more than 70 years, LGS Innovations delivers groundbreaking research and advanced networking and communications solutions that provide an information advantage and contribute to the mission success of its customers. Following the merger of Alcatel and Lucent Technologies in 2006, which created the world’s first truly global communications solutions provider, LGS was established to directly service United States federal government agencies and departments. LGS continues to expand its vision to deliver the future of government networking, advanced research, mobility, superior telecommunications products and services, and integrated solutions to U.S. Federal agencies around the globe.
WashingtonExec: What kind of competitive advantage does having an R&D resource such as Bell Labs provide to LGS?
Kevin Kelly: In 1925, Bell Telephone Laboratories was created from the consolidation of the Western Electric Research Laboratories, formed in 1907, and part of the Engineering Department of American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T). Bell Labs would go on to generate some of the most significant scientific and technological discoveries of the 20th century, including the transistor, the laser, the solar cell battery, the first orbiting communications satellite, and the cellular concept of mobile telephone service. Today, Bell Labs continues to conduct fundamental communications research and to develop the products and services that are at the forefront of the industry. Extending the vision and leadership of its parent company and Bell Labs to the U.S. Federal Government, LGS Innovations uses its unique research, development, and deployment capabilities to help its customers defend the homeland, achieve mission success, and enrich the communications experience for U.S. citizens around the globe. We consider this a significant competitive advantage.
“We want to allow the mobile user to benefit from more high-bandwidth network capabilities in a more reliable way that is also cost effective for the government.”
WashingtonExec: Where is your product and technology focus and what trends in the DoD and Federal government are driving these trends?
Kevin Kelly: The biggest trend is the desire to own less network infrastructure and use services to consolidate IT operations and improve functionality. That is why we have developed wireless networks, as well as very sophisticated high-speed, high efficiency routing and data transport technologies. We want to allow the mobile user to benefit from more high-bandwidth network capabilities in a more reliable way that is also cost effective for the government.
Mobility is also a major technology focus for LGS and the Federal government alike. LGS has a deep understanding of 4G (4th Generation) networks from end user devices to the network core and associated cloud infrastructures. This technical understanding, coupled with our extensive experience in creating leading edge wireless solutions for our mission critical U.S. Government customers, provides LGS with a very unique perspective in bringing 4G to the warfighter.
Leveraging Alcatel-Lucent’s leadership in broadband IP transformation and network integration, LGS Innovations offers a variety of 4G services, all built around a unique wireless IP transformation methodology and tools developed by Bell Labs. As a leader in ﬂat IP architecture, Alcatel-Lucent has unique expertise in Wireless IP transformation and integration. LGS leverages this knowledge to offer a seamless LTE migration path from any radio access technology (3GPP, 3GPP2 and IEEE), whether it is GSM, W-CDMA, CDMA, WiMAX, or TD-SCDMA, in both FDD and TDD variants. LGS’ LTE O&M solution is a uniﬁed supervision solution leveraging best-in-class software modules across legacy technologies and maximizing hardware re-use. LGS also beneﬁts from the signiﬁcant ﬁeld experience Alcatel-Lucent has gained from more than 40 trials in LTE (TDD and FDD in all major frequency bands) and seven contracted deployments of LTE network elements.
LGS’ Transformation and Integration Services are supported by Alcatel-Lucent’s four global IP Transformation Centers (IPTC) for pre-integration, testing, and migration services to reduce the cost of network transformation and minimize disruptions to the network. Coupled with our wireless service experience, we are in a unique position to accompany our Federal government customers in their end-to-end network migration.
WashingtonExec: What unique challenges do the military and government face in deploying wireless networks?
Kevin Kelly: The most obvious one is security. How do you provide for mobility on a wide variety of devices while still providing the required security? Spectrum ownership or lack there of, is also a challenge. Most of the useable spectrum in the United States has been allocated to users, and as such, is not available to support new systems, thus driving the Government towards a co-use model with the commercial service providers. Stability is another. Anything not directly connected faces the physical limitations of wireless signals, such as jamming, Doppler effect, and frequency interference. Making wireless signals stable enough to support high-bandwidth content and data rates is critically important. The same challenges exist in the commercial market, and the military can benefit from the commercial market’s experience. However, the necessary security protocols create a unique challenge for the military and government markets.
WashingtonExec: Would you say there is a move by the military towards COTS solutions? If so, why?
Kevin Kelly: There has been a government-wide shift to commercial, off-the-shelf technologies for the past 20 years or so. It’s a natural extension of this trend for the military to move towards these solutions when they are appropriate. The military and defense agencies will never be able to use strictly COTS solutions since their needs can be rather varied and distinct. However, if they can leverage commercial, cost effective technologies more frequently, it will enable cost savings and more efficient deployment. We’ve seen growing demand to implement high-speed networks that are secure and portable, easily and quickly deployed, and that address the real challenges of today’s government – both civilian agencies and warfighters alike. The ability to deliver COTS solutions is becoming a major component of many defense contracts and a lot of it has to do with the level of sophistication of today’s commercial technologies. This is especially true for networking and mobility technologies.
“The warfighter is central to LGS’ mission and providing the capability to connect smartphones, smartpads, and other edge devices to improve the communication of vital information outside traditional infrastructures is key to the success of their mission and safety.”
WashingtonExec: Earlier this year LGS showcased its Rapidly Deployable Network (RDN) at an Army Network Integration Exercise (NIE) at White Sands Missile Range. What was the significance to the company?
Kevin Kelly: LGS’ Rapidly Deployable Network (RDN) is a compact and self-contained 4G network-in-a-box. It enables the quick, efficient deployment of secure, reliable wireless broadband networks during critical situations and in the most remote and demanding environments. This solution has been developed to directly address the battlefield needs of the warfighter. Following the successful deployment of the portable 4G network in the recent Army Network Integration Exercise (NIE) at White Sands Missile Range, NM, LGS was able to glean critical information about how soldiers and tactical operators use such technologies. From these exercises, it became clear that access to seamless voice, video and data communications in a man-portable form factor could significantly improve command and control, situational awareness, and ultimately warfighter capability. The warfighter is central to LGS’ mission and providing the capability to connect smartphones, smartpads, and other edge devices to improve the communication of vital information outside traditional infrastructures is key to the success of their mission and safety.
WashingtonExec: Late last year LGS created a new wireless unit focused on the Federal government. How has that unit been received?
Kevin Kelly: To address customer requirements to shrink the footprint of mobile communications while making them more secure, LGS launched a Mobility Business Unit that has been well-received across the agencies. This unit offers solutions in wireless infrastructure, including on-campus and small cell solutions, tactical communications, device management, mobile security, and managed services (which includes billing, network element provisioning, administration, and operations). One of the first solutions is lightRadio™ from Alcatel-Lucent, designed to shrink a cell-phone tower to the size of a small handheld cube. LightRadio™ cuts the power required for a cellular base station as well as eliminates much of the physical infrastructure that goes along with it.
WashingtonExec: You were recently named CEO of LGS. How does your background assist you in the new role at LGS?
Kevin Kelly: My background working for the Federal government as a communications engineer, with a family history of public service and a range of experience with several Federal contractors gives me a unique perspective into the needs of citizens, agencies, and government organizations. As CEO, it is my responsibility to advance LGS’ role in delivering mission-critical networking and mobile communications solutions to more effectively serve the warfighter and drive mission-success. One of my core goals has been to align Alcatel-Lucent’s products with mission-requirements and leverage LGS’ research teams and Alcatel-Lucent’s $3 billion annual investment in R&D to the benefit of the Federal customer. We launched the Mobility Business Unit to achieve this goal, which, in turn, has enabled us to better address customer requirements – to shrink the footprint of mobile communications while making them more secure.