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Secure cloud-based mobile voice as a service: The next phase

A cloud-based solution for the next generation of secure mobile conversations.

Overview

Secure mobile communications are a critical support element to military, intelligence, first responder and law enforcement. Having a secure network and devices offers these organizations the privacy, connectivity and protection to help achieve their missions more effectively and efficiently.

But military and intelligence agencies—as well as other organizations that require secure mobile communications—will very soon have few options for secure mobile calls. The standards for secure calls currently ride over legacy cellular networks that will be phased out in the near future. This will dramatically widen the capability gap for thousands of users.

Background

It is estimated that thousands of secure government mobile phones in the field will need to be replaced within the next year or two due to the phasing out of the legacy 2G GSM/CDMA cellular infrastructure and upgrading them to higher speed data networks such as 4G cellular. These secure mobile communication devices operate in a deprecated circuit switched data (CSD) network without an immediate workaround solution available.

With the current standards about to sunset, it is time to look ahead—to new ways of thinking about the design, functionality, usability, cost and scalability of secure mobile voice and data products. Forward-thinking organizations will likely use existing approved technologies to find a timely and effective solution that offers users an experience akin to using something as sophisticated and user-friendly as an Apple iPhone or Android smartphone.

Analysis

What’s next?
A cloud-based, interoperable, commercial solution for the next generation of secure mobile conversations is emerging. The market is moving toward standards such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). This standard provides the flexibility, security and costs that organizations need to keep their mobile phone calls private over high bandwidth IP networks. Other potential standards for securing mobile voice calls include secure communications interoperability protocol (SCIP), V.150.1 modem relay and session initiation protocol (SIP), which secure mobile phones will still need to use due to the thousands of wireline SCIP terminals in use.

As yet, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that suits every user, and new developments are a near constant. Organizations will likely adopt a two-part solution merging the strengths of a managed service provider with the legacy of software solution development and market vendor relationships. Key guidelines to consider when looking at possible options include:

  • Forward compatibility—How portable are the solutions across different device types, operating systems and physical/logical interfaces?

  • Interoperability—How will emerging solutions integrate with existing legacy/fixed-line communications to support the secure communications needs of the mission and be able to support new mobile applications and services such as cloud computing?

  • Versatility—How easily adaptable are the solutions to working at or across varying mission needs for security levels, from the tactical to the strategic?

  • Time to market—When can the solutions clear all the approval hurdles and get into the hands of users?

Recommendations

The MVNO model
Any possible technology solutions to enabling secure mobile communications will benefit from the operational flexibility of the community’s drive toward establishing a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model to piggyback on commercial networks while providing dedicated management to the end users. Accenture Mobility Operated Services, for example, facilitates the launch of MVNO services through its enabling platform without incurring the high initial costs of IT and infrastructure setup, and without the burden, risk and complexity of managing possible multiple connections to third parties.

MVNO players span a spectrum from basic to advanced providers. Basic providers typically offer pure voice and standard content, up through rich content, focusing primarily on the product and access to services. As they move up to more advanced capabilities, MVNOs drive new services and broader geographic coverage through differentiated partnering agreements.

An MVNO platform is the first step toward establishing a secure virtual network. To manage a secure network, players need an infrastructure, which an MVNO can provide. Billing and correct routing are all packaged within the MVNO service. The service includes standards-based protocols and interoperability, and helps lower cost and strengthen security.

Providing enhanced security capabilities in the MVNO service would provide added assurance of mitigating cyber threats and monitoring for malicious activity. This includes the integration of mobile device management capabilities to verify the compliance health of each mobile device against the organization’s mobility policy and security guidelines (specifically, DoD Security Technical Implementation Guides) while in use and before allowing the device to connect to the enterprise network.

As the US national security community stands up:

and operates its MVNO for secure mobile community stands up and operates its MVNO for secure mobile communications, it should combine efforts with a provider who has the experience to help the community:

  • Balance functionality, cost and timing to support the rapid growth in community needs.

  • Minimize total cost of ownership by driving efficiencies through preferred pricing, integrated reporting and open standards-based solutions.

  • Leverage the experience setting up other MVNOs knowing the details of your particular needs.

  • Enable the MVNO to drive higher levels of customer satisfaction through a reusable core business architecture.

Beyond government
A reliable secure mobile voice network can expand beyond government usage. Organizations within the private sector such as energy companies, financial services companies, medical and pharmaceutical companies—any industry that deals with sensitive data—rely on discreet networks to carry out their business.

Accenture understands the challenges associated with the secure voice market, and we are able to clearly identify the need for a different way of thinking in its design, functionality, usability, cost and scalability. Through our experience and knowledge, we will be able to leverage existing approved technology to provide a timely and effective solution that give users the iPhone-like experience.

We can provide a cost-effective solution to our clients that increases service value while obviating the need to repurchase equipment for each new generation of a government-hardened secure voice product.

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