Persistent Systems LLC, a New York-based wireless communications company, is extending the range of military radio communication with cloud-enabled connections through its Cloud Relay tool.  

Man portable unit in the Wave Relay system, which can now extend its range via Cloud Relay. Photo: Persistent Systems.

Wave Relay, the company’s bread and butter Mobile Ad Hoc Networking (MANET) tool, allows for encrypted communication over RF (Defense Daily, Aug. 12). Each handheld unit can be dropped in a secure location as a node, increasing the range of communication. If the node becomes compromised, it can be remotely disabled. The company found that even these growable networks were not extensive enough and introduced Cloud Relay to seamlessly transition the radios from RF to an Internet connection as the nodes travel farther apart.

Cloud Relay switches the communications to a doubly encrypted layer three network, while the user’s experience remains the same, said account manager Wesley Mitchell, who was demonstrating Cloud Relay at this week’s Association of the United States Army conference. 

Mitchell described Cloud Relay as providing “unlimited scalability” for communication from three states to half the world away.

Responding to demand from its military clients, Persistent Systems has also introduced an Android extension to its man portable units. Any Android-based tablet or smartphone in a rugged case can be attached to the unit–transforming it from a radio into a real-time video and GPS tool. This allows soldiers to visualize other nodes in the system and see how strong their signal is in relation to other units.

Mitchell said the advantage of Cloud Relay combined with the Android addition is that database information can be easily pushed out into the field. Soldiers “don’t have to go back to base and connect to a SATCOM,” he said.

While the Cloud Relay technology was first introduced in 2009, Mitchell said the company is currently looking to expand its use. 

“This is what everyone has been saying for years that they want,” he said. 

While Mitchell would not comment on specific theaters where the system has been deployed, he said there were “many thousands of radios” in use with the military with further customers in the commercial sector.

In an event that the company will speak about publicly, Wave Relay was used to restore connections for the Coast Guard last year during Hurricane Sandy. Starting from a point where Internet was still available in Manhattan, the company dropped nodes on an apartment rooftop to a radio in New Jersey to the Coast Guard’s headquarters on Staten Island. The process only “took hours to deploy,” Mitchell said.