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Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE)


In 1982, the Army embarked on the acquisition of the Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) system to meet the area communications requirement at echelons below Corps and down to the battalion level. MSE was acquired to meet the tactical telephone and switchboard requirements with a smaller more mobile switching capability. The concept of employment for MSE was in the forward battle area where it would be impractical to locate large nodal switching centers, the AN/ITC-39. This was, in part, due to the size and weight of these switchboards; but, more importantly, it was the lack of skilled operators needed to field this system. In addition, the MSE requirements, established by the Army, were to be met by the acquisition of off-the-shelf hardware and technology. The original one billion dollar price tag set by GTE blossomed into a $4.3 billion venture.


Mobile Subscriber Equipment can best be described as the combination of a mobile cellular telephone and a commercial telephone. Just as in the mobile cellular telephone concept, the subscriber would use the telephone to access a switchboard through the use of a radio signal; the switchboard would direct the call based on the area code and number dialed. In the MSE concept, the subscriber may access many switches through the availability and use of multiple radio relays or wirelines. The switchboard would do a flood search, querying all switchboards on the system for the desired number, until it found a switch that could access the desired number. Unlike the commercial telephone system, once a MSE subscriber becomes static and has access to a nearby switch, he could, by wireline, plug into the system and turn off the radio portion of the mobile radio telephone. Unlike the civilian cellular and commercial telephone system, the number assigned to a subscriber does not change regardless of location, whether moving or stationary. In essence, no call forwarding or special dialing instructions are needed by the MSE user.


In the Army's Air Land Battle Doctrine, MSE and TRITAC are employed to support a five division Corps-wide network. MSE would provide communications support from the Corps' rear boundary to the division's maneuver battalion rear boundary. MSE would cover an area of approximately 37,500 square kilometers. Mobile Subscriber Equipment integrates the use of facsimile, telephone, and data terminals through the combined use of radio telephones and wire-line access into a switching system at all levels. The Node Center Switch (NCS) makes up the backbone of the MSE system and provides connectivity through the use of extension switches, Large Extension Nodes (LEN's) and Small Extension Nodes (SEN's), and Radio Access Units (RAU's). In order to communicate with other mobile and wire telephone users throughout the theater, the Radio Access Units allow the Mobile Subscriber Radio Telephone (MSRT) to interface into the MSE system through the NCS, LEN or SEN. The MSE system enters the TRITAC network through a switching gateway, the AN/TTC-39, which provides the mobile commander or staff the ability to communicate with their higher headquarters.


The most significant component within MSE is the System Control Center (SCC), which provides the communicator real-time system management of the network through a variety of data inputs. The SCC enables the system to be more robust and survivable in the event a command post is partially or fully destroyed. MSE subscribers will still have the capability to communicate with the next senior or subordinate headquarters through the existing RAU's.





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