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US Navy outfitting three ships with LTE networks by the end of 2012

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The US Navy will be deploying a portable LTE network onto three of its vessels this year in order to participate in a training exercise that will have individual sailors sending video back to their ships from their smartphones.

LTE Phone (w/marked)
LTE Phone (w/marked)

There's not much cellular connectivity to speak of when one is out at sea, but the US Navy will be changing that with a plan to equip three different ships with their own LTE-based networks this year. Wired reports that the ships selected — the USS Kearsarge, USS San Antonio, and the USS Whidbey Island — will be outfitted with the systems in order to take part in an at-sea training exercise. During the exercise, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will board a ship that has been "hijacked" by pirates, and will then use smartphones to send video and data back to their own ship.

The Navy will be following in the Army's footsteps, using regular Android devices — with additional security added by the NSA — to transmit the data. The LTE network itself is being built by BATS Wireless, and will reportedly feature a range of 20 nautical miles and a 300 Mbps data transfer rate. The ships themselves won't utilize the LTE network for communications — it's being reserved solely for mobile devices — and while the Navy hasn't announced plans to take the trial beyond the three ships listed, there are clearly larger implications should the test prove successful. Naval Air Systems Command spokesperson Doug Abbotts, who has been involved with the project since 2009, told Wired that "there are several agencies interested in the evaluation of the system in a Maritime environment."