GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — A fiber optic cable will link key U.S. Army bases in Europe over the next four to five years, allowing the Army to increase data traffic exponentially, according to the 5th Signal Command.

Lt. Col. Charlie Wells, product manager for Defense Communications Systems Europe, said the cable, known as the Dense Wave Division Multiplexing Optical Transport Network, will provide high-speed telecommunications to installations in the Grafenwöhr, Kaiserslautern, Wiesbaden and Stuttgart areas.

Although the process of laying the cable is almost complete, linking it up with various units as the Army transforms in Europe will take four to five years, a 5th Signal Command public affairs officer said.

The network will be more secure and reliable and avoid delays, Wells said.

A single strand of the new cable can deliver data at up to 40 gigabits per second (40 Gbps) — more than a tenfold increase in current capabilities, he said.

“This capability literally takes bandwidth out of the equation and facilitates simulations, exercises, staff planning, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing in new and innovative ways that have never been done before,” Wells said.

The cost of the cable project cannot be revealed because some phases of it are still being acquired, he said.

The new network will allow servers, currently spread throughout bases in Europe at 24 network service centers, to be consolidated in hubs at Grafenwöhr, Kaiserslautern, Belgium and Italy, he said.

The consolidation, which is happening armywide, is expected to save millions of dollars and increase security, he added.

Brig. Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general, 5th Signal Command, said the first server hub opened at Kaiserslautern last month.

New technology enables servers to be physically further away from users while increasing security and speed, he said.

“The new system provides (data) recovery and continuity of operations capabilities that simply did not exist in the decentralized system,” he said in an e-mail message.

The server hubs will be able to diagnose, repair and conduct recovery operations that have previously required extensive hands-on support, he said.

A server hub is due to open at Grafenwöhr this fall for the newly arrived 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment, according to the 5th Signal Command.

Maj. Brad Davis, executive officer with the 69th Signal Battalion, which is on the move to Grafenwöhr this summer, said servers from surrounding communities will be consolidated in one building on 120 floor-to-ceiling stacks. The fiber optic network will extend to Hohenfels by 2007 to 2008, he said.

The cable will enable the Army to turn off many microwave sites scattered across the hills of Germany that it uses to transfer data. The sites will eventually be returned to the German government, he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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