Airbus DS Communications recently announced that its VESTA 4 next-generation 911 system earned Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), making the solution the first IP-based E-911 system approved for use by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) at military installations, according to a company official.

To become a JITC-certified product, the VESTA 4 was subjected to five weeks of comprehensive military testing that followed several weeks of preparation by members of the Airbus DS Communications technical staff, according to Kevin Brown, federal sales director for Airbus DS Communications.

“There are essentially two sides of the system that they’re looking at,” Brown said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “They’re looking at the telephone-system interface side of it—how it’s going to interface with their PBX. And, because these are computerized telephony interfaces, they’re also looking at the computer side of this, to make sure that it meets their IA [information-assurance] requirements on the computer side of things.

“VESTA 4 went through the lab with glowing results. It’s the first IP-based solution to go through JITC.”

Although the military required some additional hardening and security to meet the DoD’s information-assurance requirements, the VESTA 4 system that received JITC certification is the same core solution that civilian 911 centers use today or can purchase, Brown said.

“If you took someone on the civilian side that’s used to sitting in front of a VESTA 4 and took them to a military base and put them in front of [the DoD version of the VESTA 4], it would look identical—it’s the same product,” he said.

For the military, a key requirement for 911 systems is that they are able to interface with a variety of PBX systems used at military installations—“really, small cities, because they have 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 people,” Brown said—which includes legacy TDM telephony solutions and newer VoIP telephony systems.

Airbus DS Communications has other solutions that have been JITC-certified for legacy PBX systems used at military installations, Brown said. The VESTA 4’s primary rate interface (PRI) gives it the ability to work with both older and newer PBX solutions, which fulfills a notable need for the DoD as military installations migrate to new platforms, he said.

“On a given base, you could run into two—or maybe three—different PBX technologies currently in place, and they’re migrating from one to the other,” Brown said.  “As they’re migrating, they don’t have to replace their 911 system, because they moved to a different PBX technology. [The VESTA 4] can move with them and migrate with them, with some relatively minor configuration changes in the system. You don’t have to replace the system, just because they’ve changed their PBX.”

In August, Cassidian Communications officially changed its name to Airbus DS Communications to reflect the fact that the company is part of the Airbus Group, which is best known as an aircraft manufacturer. However, in September, the Airbus Group announced plans to sell all business units that do not address its core markets, which includes Airbus DS Communications.