LTE Category M1 Instrumentation

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Summary: The Army seeks to determine if industry can desires solutions to modify Class M1 commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices to meet Live Collective Training (LCT) needs and still provide the benefits of Low Power Internet of Things (LPIoT). The Category M1 COTS devices are currently in use, however, they do not meet the conditions required in order to support LCT.  The commercial standard has evolved to the point that LPIoT is now supported by all Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular providers and is accessible across most of the continental United States. The objective of the LTE Category M1 Instrumentation prototype project is to determine if COTS LPIoT devices can be modified and tested to determine capability to support latency, throughput, and cyber security restrictions for PM CTIS identified certain use cases. The following defines one PM CTS use case and highlights the potential benefits of the LTE Category M1 modem:
To view and download the request for solutions (RFS) and supplemental documents, click the following hyperlinked text.

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    Summary: The Army seeks to determine if industry can desires solutions to modify Class M1 commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices to meet Live Collective Training (LCT) needs and still provide the benefits of Low Power Internet of Things (LPIoT). The Category M1 COTS devices are currently in use, however, they do not meet the conditions required in order to support LCT.  The commercial standard has evolved to the point that LPIoT is now supported by all Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular providers and is accessible across most of the continental United States. The objective of the LTE Category M1 Instrumentation prototype project is to determine if COTS LPIoT devices can be modified and tested to determine capability to support latency, throughput, and cyber security restrictions for PM CTIS identified certain use cases. The following defines one PM CTS use case and highlights the potential benefits of the LTE Category M1 modem:

    *       The purpose of the modem is to send position location and event data from the trainee to the Exercise Control (EXCON) and to send battle simulation (examples include minefield and artillery events) to the trainee. The trainee wears (puts on) the modem which is connected to the Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems (TESS). The current instrumentation radio and battery weigh approximately 5 pounds with dimensions approximately 12 x 12 x 4 inches. Based on market research, the Government has determined a LTE Category M1 modem may cut weight by a third and reduce the overall size to that of a fat cell phone.

    *       The trainee, while conducting training, must be under cellular coverage for the data to flow to and from the EXCON. Market research indicates the Category M1 modem has better coverage than the current system. When the trainee is using tactics and cover, the Category M1 modem is more likely to maintain a data link.

    *       The current instrumentation radio uses the LTE high bandwidth protocols. Once a radio connects to a cellular tower, it maintains the connection for 10 to 15 seconds. This ensures that a cell phone user will not have a dropped call. For this use case, it takes less than a second to send data; the other 9+ seconds are wasted airtime. Market research indicates the LPIoT is designed for small data messages. Through handling more messages during the same time period, more participants will be supported by one cellular transceiver, reducing infrastructure requirements.

    *       The current instrumentation radio uses the cell phone data rates which are between $12 and $40 a month depending upon location. Market research indicates LPIoT data plans average $1 a month and $1 per megabyte of data. The overall cost per Category M1 mode should be approximately $2 to $3 a month.

    As shown in the above scenarios, the LTE Category M1 modem has the potential to provide significant benefits to the home station and Combat Training Center (CTC) training programs. In FY 22, PM CTIS EO STRI will start the Life Cycle replacement of 14,000 instrumentation radios at the National Training Center (NTC) and the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The outcomes of this prototype project will directly influence this effort.

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    Technical Objectives of the Program:

    This prototype project will focus on reducing  the size and weight as well as reducing the power consumption of the Instrumentation Unit while meeting the use case. To accomplish this, the prototype project will seek to address four technical objectives:

    *       Technical Objective #1: Determine if the Category M1 modem will support the data rate and latency required by a range instrumentation system. Although market research and initial review of the specification indicates that it will, additional overhead such as cyber security must be tested. At a CTC, density of soldiers under a cellular sector can easily approach 2,000 which may also impact latency.

    *       Technical Objective #2: Determine how the Category M1 modem’s range compares to normal LTE. Market research indicated the range should be equal or better. However, the live training environment has unusual conditions such as devices on soldiers on the ground and devices on huge metal objects such as tanks.

    *       Technical Objective #3: Determine if the Category M1 modem will reduce the battery size/weight that a soldier must carry. Market research illustrated extended battery life using Class M1 modems in a commercial use case. The communications format of the Category M1 standard may require changes to the current Instrumentation System to the TESS Interface Control Document (ICD).

    *       Technical Objective #4: Determine the size of the Category M1 modem based instrumentation unit. The commercial units identified during market research were 1/3 the size of the current Instrumented Player Unit (IPU). Ruggedization, connection to TESS, and other functions may increase the size of the final unit.

    The POP for this prototype project is anticipated to be approximately 12 months and will be conducted in two phases:

    Phase One: Design, Development, and Testing of the LTE Category M1 Instrumentation Prototype (NTE 8 Months).

    During Phase One, conduct three subsystem design reviews [Information Assurance (IA), hardware (HW), and software (SW)] and a final system review with the vendor. Modify the vendor’s COTS device to meet the base Instrumentation Unit use case as follows:

    *       Provide global positioning system (GPS) position location as fast as every 10 seconds.

    *       Send to the EXCON position location updates at least every 60 seconds.

    *       Connect to CVTESS, TVS and IWS through RS 232.

    *       Send TESS events within 60 seconds of receiving them from the TESS.

    *       Receive and pass EXCON messages to the TESS.

    *       Provide indicator that the unit is ON; is part of the Network; and has accurate GPS.

    *       Provide soldier safety features such as a help button.

    *       Meet NTC and JRTC environmental conditions.

    *       Provide method for association of the device to a specific training event.

    *       Support a cloud based EXCON.

    After the final system review, the vendor will deliver fifty (50) Beta Instrumentation Units for initial government testing.

    LTE Category M1 Instrumentation Prototype Testing: Government testing will be conducted at US Army facilities located in Orlando, FL, and at Ft Benning, GA, Fort Irwin CA, and Fort Polk, LA. The five Beta Instrumentation Units will be connected to the IDE-F EXCON for testing purposes. Individuals wearing MILES will maneuver through a lane. Successful test will depend on accuracy and latency of the bi-directional message flow. In addition, battery usage and ruggedness will be tested. The vendor will provide a draft of the User’s documentation.

    The Government has identified the following constraints that must be addressed during testing and may impact completion of Phase One:

    *       The Instrumentation Unit must follow the Category M1 standard; no unique changes to support the use case that may impact usage on different networks or in different areas.

    *       Will require cyber security controls.

    At the end of Phase One, after testing, the Government will decide (based on the test results) if the prototype project will continue to Phase Two.

    Phase Two: Further Development and Testing of the LTE Category M1 Instrumentation Prototype (NTE 4 Months).

    The purpose of Phase Two is two-fold: (1) Further development of the LTE Category M1 Instrumentation prototype (if needed), and (2) Low rate initial production (LRIP) of the prototype to support extended user assessment and operational testing of the LTE Category M1 Instrumentation prototype.

    *       Further Development of the Phase One Beta Instrumentation Units based on the outcomes of the Phase One testing. The purpose of further development (if needed) will be to address any issues discovered with the Phase One Beta Instrumentation Units.

    *       LRIP and deliver 1,000 LTE Category M1 Instrumentation prototypes to support continued user assessment and operational test and evaluation (T&E) of the prototypes at the IDE-F, NTC, and JRTC. LRIP and delivery will occur in several lots allowing validation between production runs.

    Upon successful completion of Phase Two, the vendor will provide the Government the following:

    *       Manufacturing cost estimate of an Instrumentation Unit at the Quantity of 1,000 units.

    *       Expected life expectancy of the device [both meantime between failure (MTBF) and Obsolesce drivers].

    *       What parts of the device are repairable.

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    The Government has approximately $400 – 500K available for this effort and is expecting to release a Request for Solutions during Late August 2019.