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Bandwidth becomes increasingly critical to the Army as it migrates to a new force structure that is knowledge-based and network-centric. To the user, high bandwidth is useful because it supports high-volume data exchange, short delays, and high assurance of connectivity. Communications networks, however, face severe scaling issues with increases in the number of network participants. This results in a shortage of bandwidth, or network capacity. New technologies, commercial and military, will continue to increase bandwidth availability to mobile users, but demand is likely to continue to exceed supply. The authors examine the Army's projected demands for communications capacity and describe steps that can be taken to address the gap between demand and supply, which include techniques such as higher frequencies, more efficient routing protocols, adding a vertical node, and improving operational management of the network.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and performed within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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