Marine Corps aims to introduce Wi-Fi policy, IT official says

Selina Lo of Ruckus, Jeff Castro of the Marine Corps, Scott Blanchard of General Dynamics Mission System and moderator Siva Valliappan of Brocade speak at Brocade's annual Federal Forum. (FedScoop)

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The Marine Corps takes on some of the country’s most dangerous missions, but it lacks a robust Wi-Fi policy, according to an armed forces IT specialist.

“We do some type of wireless, but it’s still bulky,” said Jeff Castro, capabilities integration officer and information technology portfolio manager for the Marines. “We are waiting on policy. We can adopt [Department of Defense] or [National Security Agency] policy, but we need to refine one for within the Marine Corps.”

Castro, who spoke Tuesday during Brocade’s annual Federal Forum, produced by FedScoop, added that there is Wi-Fi in supply depots, and on scanners and tablets that the force uses. However, he wants to see the Marines take on a smartphone.

“I’d really like to see the smartphone be that one device that does everything at work — you can deploy with it, activate your Wi-Fi when you leave,” he said. “We waste so much money on infrastructure. I would like to see one device, with multiple functions, that does everything.”

Ruckus Wireless, which was acquired by Brocade in April, provides Wi-Fi solutions for enterprise and service providers — and CEO Selina Lo said it wants to become a major player in the federal space.

Ruckus has provided Wi-Fi for three branches of the military, in barracks as well as private housing.

“Ruckus has been providing services for a long time, and now we want to see how we can actually get this into government,” Lo said.

She said Wi-Fi is becoming “inevitable,” except in cases of high security, and pointed to Wi-Fi adoption in public spaces as proof.

She specifically singled out LinkNYC, a high-speed communications network in New York City.

LinkNYC has started swapping out more than 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs with new structures called Links. The structures provide free public Wi-Fi as well as outlets to charge devices.

“This is a project where the city government is working with the private sector to replace all the public pay phones with kiosks where they do advertising, and also provide charging stations and Wi-Fi,” Lo said.

She added that, in about 10 years, the city is expecting to receive about $500 million in ad revenue for implementing these new systems.

“We are seeing all kinds of ways that people are putting Wi-Fi everywhere,” she said. “I think more and more what you’ll be seeing is that people are going to use their devices to access Wi-Fi. So if there is no Wi-Fi network, they will go look for open networks.”

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Brocade, data analytics, Department of Defense (DOD), Departments, Federal Forum, LinkNYC, Marines, Tech, wifi
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