Case Study: Secure Network Operations in Contested Networks

Subject: Specula

The Challenge:

Contested, congested, and low reliance network connections continue to impede tactical communications in austere environments. Low data throughput rates, combined with significant packet loss and latency issues, can jeopardize both missions and standard operational communication links.

The Solution:

Sentar, through a Small Business Innovation Research project (SBIR), has developed a solution for transferring bulk data of up to 1 TB through potentially contested and congested networks. To accomplish this, the system synchronizes files between a server and a remote device while Specula speeds up the file transfer.

Sentar’s solution rests in the recognition of the inherent shortcomings of the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (also known as TCP/IP), which does not adapt well to congestion, nor does it adapt well to other austere network environments. Sentar’s Specula is built from a variant of the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) known as Data Transfer Protocol (UDT). The UDT protocol overcomes the reliability issues associated with UDP, and offers both multi-path and single-path transmission capabilities that increase transmission speeds up to 4x.  Further, Specula introduces congestion control algorithms that allow it to adapt to the specific network conditions that are observed.  Specula is a TRL 6.

The Mission Impact:

•      Improved Network Transmissions:  Specula’s test cases in real world Amazon Web Service (AWS) test conditions resulted in a 2x improvement in network transmissions using single path communications, and a 4x over multi-path environments. What is the point of having the right news, or the right discovery, if you aren’t able to effectively transmit the results overseas through congested or contested networks?

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