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DOD & Federal VTC Interoperability Standards. In support of: Defense Information Systems Agency Interoperability Directorate, IN42. Chuck Grandgent Dir. Strategic Development Octave Communications, Inc., Nashua, NH Chair, IMTC Dataconferencing Activity Group E-mail:

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dod federal vtc interoperability standards

DOD & Federal VTC Interoperability Standards

  • In support of:
  • Defense Information Systems Agency
  • Interoperability Directorate, IN42

Chuck Grandgent

Dir. Strategic Development

Octave Communications, Inc., Nashua, NH

Chair, IMTC Dataconferencing Activity Group


November 2002



- In the 1980’s and early 1990’s DOD relied on proprietary equipment to achieve VTC interoperability.

- In the mid 1990’s DOD successfully switched to international standards-based VTC equipment to achieve interoperability.

  • As a result, DOD is now no longer reliant on any one VTC vendor to achieve interoperability.
    • Multiple vendors within DOD
    • Customer has the option to choose the vendor that best meets his particular needs.
    • Interoperability is good (but not perfect)
  • However, technology and use of the technology is rapidly evolving
    • New standards are often needed to keep up with new technology and new requirements


joint technical architecture
Joint Technical Architecture
  • Joint Technical Architecture (JTA) is the set of information technology standards needed for interoperability within U.S. Dept of Defense(DOD)
  • Developed jointly by all DOD Services and Agencies


joint technical architecture4
Joint Technical Architecture
  • Goal: improve interoperability within DOD
  • Adopts mostly international standards
  • Includes mandatory and emerging standards
    • To be included as mandatory, standard must be approved (decided or ratified) and have commercially available implementations
  • Website:
  • JTA 4.0 approved Aug 12, 2002
  • JTA 5.0 in draft form


jta policy
JTA Policy
  • JTA is mandated for all DOD per Aug. 12, 2002 memorandum
  • Exceptions require a waiver with concurrence from USD(A&T) and ASD(C3I)
  • Memorandum signed by:
      • E.C. Aldridge, Jr – Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics
      • John P. Stenbit – DOD Chief Information Officer
  • OK to implement non-standard protocols to meet special requirements, as long as the corresponding JTA standard protocol is also implemented.


jta status v 4 0
JTA Status – v 4.0
  • Latest approved version: 4.0 dated August 12, 2002
  • Mandates the following families of international standards pertaining to VTC and collaboration:
      • H.320 for digital switched ckts
      • H.323 for packet switched networks such as TCP/IP
        • Lots of recent interest in DOD
      • H.324 for low bit rate (9.6 –28.8 Kbps) (POTS)
      • T.120 for all circuit types
  • References Federal Standard for VTC for further details
      • (Federal Telecommunications Recommendation 1080)


ftr 1080
FTR 1080
  • Federal Telecommunications Recommendation 1080
    • Federal Standard for VTC
        • Website:
    • Latest approved version: FTR 1080B-2002
        • Unanimous approval by Federal Telecommunication Standards Committee
        • Final Approval --- 15 Aug 2002
        • Adds H.323 for VTC over packet switched networks

(in addition to H.320 for circuit switched networks)

        • Supercedes FTR 1080A-1998
    • Appendix A is VTC Profile


vtc profile ftr 1080b 2002 appendix a
VTC Profile(FTR 1080B-2002, Appendix A)
  • Detailed profile of standards tailored for DOD Interoperability
    • Includes security specifications (Type 1 encryption)
    • Includes Protocol Implementation Conformance Statements (PICS)
    • Has been very useful in improving interoperability in DOD
      • Cited in DOD procurement documents to “raise the bar” on standards-based interoperability
  • Mandated for DOD by DOD policy and JTA
    • Optional for rest of Federal Gov’t


vtc profile features


Circuit Switched

Packet Switched

Digital Compressed Video

Near Full Motion

Audio Coding




Application Sharing

Shared Whiteboard

Still Image Transfer

File Transfer

Security (Encryption)


Unclassified Sensitive

ISDN Interfaces

Electrical Interfaces

Mechanical Interfaces

VTC Profile Features




  • ISDN
  • Switched 56
  • T1 / Fractional T1
  • Dedicated
  • Packet Switched
  • LANs

Key Standards & Interfaces in the VTC Profile

(FTR 1080B-2002, Appendix A)

Video Standards

Audio Standards

VTC Standards

G.711 Narrow-band Voice

G.722 Wide-band Voice

G.723 Low Bit-rate Voice

G.728 Narrow-band Voice

G.729 Low Bit-rate Voice

H.320 Narrowband VTC

H.323 Packet Network VTC

H.221 Frame Structure

H.224 Real Time Control

H.225 Multiplexing

H.230 Control Signals

H.242 Establish Comm

H.245 Signalling

H.281 Far-end camera control

H.450 Supplementary Services

H.261 Video Coding

H.263 Video Coding

Collaboration Standards



T.120 Multimedia Data

T.122 Multipoint Comm

T.123 Data Protocol Stacks

T.124 Conference Control

T.125 Multipoint Comm Spec

T.126 Shared Whiteboard

T.127 File Transfer

T.128 Application Sharing

H.231 MCUs

H.243 Establish Comm

H.245 MCUs



EIA-366-A Dialing Interface

TIA/EIA-422-B Digital Interface

TIA/EIA-423-B Digital Interface

EIA-449-1 Digital Interface

TIA/EIA-530-A Digital Interface

Encryption Interfaces


KG - 194 Interface

KIV - 7 Interface

vtc standards policy
VTC Standards Policy
  • FTR 1080 is official VTC standards document for DOD
  • Mandated per 30 Mar 1998 ASD-C3I policy memorandum and as per JTA 4.0
  • Copy of policy memorandum can be found at end of FTR 1080B-2002.


next version of vtc profile focus on joint tactical vtc stds
Next version of VTC Profile: Focus on joint tactical VTC stds
  • Army is fielding its Battlefield VTC (BVTC)
  • Navy is fielding shipboard Tactical VTC
  • NATO is planning its tactical VTC system
  • Other DOD components are also starting to use tactical VTC
  • Need for interoperability to existing DOD VTC base, other government agencies & contractors
  • Need for joint, combined, & coalition interoperability between DOD services, NATO, & coalition partners
  • First meeting held Sept. 24-25, 2002 (gov’t only)
  • Looking for voluntary industry participation – contact Klaus Rittenbach,


army bvtc equipment
Army BVTC Equipment


Video Camera




Ruggedized laptop


Audio/Video CODEC


a few of the issues
A few of the Issues
  • Need better support for common set of low bit rate audio standards on H.323 VTC
    • Forced to go with G.711 as common denominator
  • Need better interoperability & support of T.120 standards in H.320 and H.323 VTC products
    • More robust, fully integrated, full featured implementations of T.120
  • Firewall issues
    • Need standardized, non-proprietary methods of passing through firewalls without opening many ports
  • Managing gatekeeper configurations - prone to human error
  • Error resiliency is key requirement for future codecs


  • U.S. federal government relies on international standards for interoperability
  • The JTA mandates the minimum set of standards and guidelines for the acquisition of all DoD systems
  • JTA 4.0 was approved 12 Aug 2002; JTA 5.0 is in draft form
  • Primary standards applicable to VTC currently in JTA – H.320, H.323, & T.120 families
  • FTR 1080 VTC Profile is a profile of VTC standards tailored for DOD and cited in the JTA
  • VTC Profile to be enhanced to more fully address Joint Tactical VTC standards