Navy Expanding Use of Smartphones on Networks

Published, October 22, 2015

The Navy is in the process of transitioning shore-based BlackBerry users to Apple and Android-based smartphones, with a scheduled completion date of January 31, 2016. More...

This includes users on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) network in the continental United States (CONUS) and those using the outside the continental United States (OCONUS) Navy Enterprise Network (ONE-Net). These changes apply only to the Navy's approximately 20,000 government-issued ashore smartphones and not to personal smartphones.

The transition was driven by the need to upgrade the servers that support the smartphones. When the Navy evaluated enterprise server upgrade options, leaders made the decision to switch from BlackBerry to Apple and Android devices based on software functionality and availability as well as on user familiarity with Apple and Android smartphones. In addition, Apple and Android devices dominate the market, which means that the infrastructure to support a new generation of Navy business and mission apps is focused on these operating systems.

Since NMCI received authorization to use Apple devices, capacity has been increased to support more than 25,000 smartphone users throughout CONUS. The NMCI program office is closely monitoring iPhone/iPad activations and requests to ensure NMCI capacity remains ahead of demand.

For ONE-Net users, the Navy is installing the same mobile device management system installed on NMCI. This is enabling the ONE-Net program to capitalize on NMCI research, security, and lessons learned. A ONE-Net proof-of-concept began in Naples, Italy in July 2015. It will be followed by operational system installs in Italy, Japan, and Bahrain, which will be completed by the end of December 2015. This will provide sufficient capacity for all ONE-Net BlackBerry users to transition to Apple and Android devices before the end of January 2016.

For CONUS NMCI wireless contract managers, a guide for transitioning wireless service contracts from BlackBerry to Apple is available online through the Naval Supply Systems Command. The new devices can be obtained as a free upgrade for eligible BlackBerry users. Therefore, the majority of CONUS users can upgrade from a BlackBerry without an additional purchase cost or an increase in the phone bill.

The Navy's afloat networks will continue to use BlackBerry smartphones in the near term. An upgrade of the current Blackberry Enterprise Server is being assessed and tested. If approved, the upgrade could allow the use of BlackBerry, Apple, and Android smartphones.

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