Netheads vs Bellheads – an Unceasing Scramble

Manfred Sneps-Sneppe


The confrontation of these two technologies - packet-switching and circuit-switching – has a long history, and it seems to be incessant. It had started with Asynchronous Transfer Mode technology in the 1990s. The breakup of the Bell System marked a key loss in Bellheads camp but not defeat. The confrontation is going on in areas of telecommunication switches and emergency services. Starting in the late 2010s, AT&T is replacing older 4ESS switches with N4E-N1B switches developed by Nokia Bell Labs. Only in 2017, AT&T has been selected by the First Responder Network Authority to build and manage the first broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters, and emergency medical services. The most acute struggle unfolded in the area of defense information systems. According to a recent GAO report (in 2018), the U.S. weapons systems developed between 2012 and 2017 have severe, even “mission critical” cyber vulnerabilities. The move to the IP world is slow: there is too much risk of losing control over defense forces. Till now the Defense Red Switch Network (DRSN) uses 40 years old ISDN technology. The reason for this is unsolved cyber security issues.

Full Text:



Steve G. Steiberg Netheads vs Bellheads. Wired. 1996.

Robert D. Atkinson. Who Lost Lucent? The Decline of America’s Telecom Equipment Industry. American Affairs. 2020. Vol IV, No3: 99-135

Total Telecom Equipment Market 2020.

Model State 911 Plan. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Version 1.0, February 2013.

Wireless communications and public safety Act of 1999. Public law 106-81. October 26, 1999.

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9 1 1) System Initiative. Concept of Operations. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Washington D.C. April 6, 2007.

Technology Transitions, Order, Report & Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Report & Order, Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Proposal for Ongoing Data Initiative, GN Docket No. 13-5, FCC 14-5 (rel. Jan. 31, 2014).

Mike Loushine et al, “Emergency Services Demo with Location-based Services, IMS, and WiMAX”. Telcordia Applied Research, May 11, 2010.

Web; Retrieved: Mar, 2019

Phillip Tracy, “Understanding FirstNet, the post-9/11 public safety initiative”, August 31, 2016. Web: Retrieved: Jan, 2022.

AT&T Selected by FirstNet to Build and Manage America’s First Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network Dedicated to First Responders. March 30, 2017. Web: Retrieved: Jan, 2022.

FirstNet Surpasses 2.8 Million Connections and Establishes Market Leadership with Law Enforcement. October 27, 2021.

GAO-19-128. Weapon Systems Cybersecurity. DOD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of Vulnerabilities. Report to the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate. United States Government Accountability Office. October 2018.

Ch. Osborn. “Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) An Essential Weapon for the Nation’s Defense”. 16 May 2018. Web: file:///G:/Pentagon-book+/Osborn_%20DISN%20An%20Essential%20Weapon2018.pdf/ Retrieved: Jan, 2022.

The Defense Network of Tomorrow—Today. AT&T White paper. 2018

Army Regulation 25–13 Information Management. Army Telecommunications and Unified Capabilities. Headquarters Department of the Army Washington, DC. 11 May 2017

Doctrine for Command, Control, Communications, and Computer (C4) Systems Support to Joint Operations. 30 May 1995.

Defense Networks. Management Information Shortfalls Hinder Defense Efforts to Meet DISN Goals. US General Accounting Office. GAO/AIMD-98-202. July 30, 1998

William W. Chao. Emerging Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) For 21st Century Warfighters, MILICOM, 1999. IEEE

Special Interoperability Test Certification of Avaya S8300D with Gateway 450 (G450). Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), 17 Apr 2012

Global Information Grid. Architectural Vision for a Net-Centric, Service-Oriented DoD Enterprise. Department of Defense. June 2007

Department of Defense Assured Services (AS) Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Errata-1, July 2013

U.S. Army Unified Capabilities (UC) Reference Architecture (RA). Version 1.0. 11 October 2013. Retrieved: Jan, 2022.

Joint Information Environment (JIE)

JRSS Overview Joint Regional Security Stack

GAO-16-593. Joint Information Environment: DOD Needs to Strengthen Governance and Management. Jul 14, 2016.

M. Gruss, “The debate about whether DISA's new security system is ready for primetime”, Febr 7, 2018 Web: Retrieved: Jan, 2022.

The Pentagon is moving away from the Joint Regional Security Stacks


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Abava  Кибербезопасность MoNeTec 2024

ISSN: 2307-8162