DARPA seeks industry help with 100 Gb/s radio frequency backbone

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is soliciting research proposals for developing a communications link capable of transmitting data at a rate of 100 gigabits per second within a single radio channel, according to a Jan. 3 broad agency announcement from DARPA's Strategic Technology Office.

The objective of the DARPA initiative is to design, build, and test a communications link with fiber-optic-equivalent capacity in airborne-to-airborne and airborne-to-ground configurations that can serve as a deployable data backbone in a military communications network. The agency envisions aerial and ground assets that provide 100 Gb/s capacity at ranges of 200 km for air-to-air links and 100 km for air-to-ground links.

"The proposed program, 100G, should investigate innovative approaches for using high-order modulation together with spatial multiplexing to achieve spectral efficiencies greater than 20 bits-per-second-per hertz," states the BAA.

In addition, DARPA wants the system to provide an all-weather (cloud, rain and fog) capability while maintaining tactically-relevant throughput and link ranges. The agency's goal is to meet the weight and power metrics of the Common Data Link deployed by the forces today for high-capacity data streaming from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

DARPA hosted a proposer's day conference today to provide industry with information about the solicitation. According to the agency announcement, $18.3 million is available for Phase I of the effort, with multiple awards expected for each of Phase I's three technology areas.

For more:
-go to DARPA's BAA

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