Aussie troops to become Wi-Fi GIs

LAN of the free...

The Australian army is to bring a whole new meaning to the terms 'wardriving' and 'hotspot' when it equips troops with Wi-Fi-enabled communications kit later this year.

Part of the army's Wundurra hi-tech combat support system, the Wi-Fi devices will be used as VoIP radios, connecting individual soldiers up and through the chain of command.

The Aussie army will use the kit to test voice applications and supply connectivity to handheld and portable computers for the delivery of maps, intelligence and orders. Commanders can contact soldiers en masse - 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...' - or individually - 'Cause we're 'ere, son'.

There's even a 'push-to-talk' button attached to each soldier's rifle, allowing them to talk and fight at the same time - 'Don't panic! Don't panic!'.

Around 1,000 radios developed by Marconi were acquired for evaluation purposes, Australian IT reports.

According to Defcon Systems, a Sydney-based defence equipment supplier which handled the purchase, the kit comprises off-the-shelf technology. Defcon MD Nick Stokes admitted that - for the trials at least - the Wi-Fi network would not be encrypted, though there is some "level of security". Is this enough to stop Pringle-tin equipped Aussie hackers from causing grief to the grunts? ®

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