Navy wrapping up its switch from BlackBerry to Apple, Android

The Navy is ready to complete its transition from BlackBerry to Apple and Android smartphones, as it expands the presence of shore-based smartphone users on its network.

The transition, expected to be completed by the end of January 2016, covers about 20,000 current users in the continental United States and Hawaii on the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet and abroad on the Navy Enterprise Network (ONE-Net), according to an announcement by the Navy.

And capacity is on the rise. The Navy said that since it got permission to make the move to Apple and Android devices, it has increased the capacity for smartphone users to 25,000 in the continental United States alone. When it first announced the transition in May, plans called for increasing the NMCI capacity to 30,000.

The move away from BlackBerry, long a government stalwart, was prompted by a preference for Apple and Android enterprise servers, as well as users’ familiarity with those two platforms, which dominate the mobile computing market. The switch applies only to shore-based government-issued phones, not personal devices.

Outside the United States, the Navy will give ONE-Net users the same mobile device management system that NMCI users see. The service launched a proof-of-concept for ONE-Net in Naples, Italy in July, and plans to install the MDM system in Italy, Japan, and Bahrain by December, which should allow all ONE-Net BlackBerry users to move to Apple and/or Android by Jan. 31, 2016, the Navy said.

As for mobile devices at sea, the Navy is sticking with BlackBerry for now, although the service is considering adopting BlackBerry Enterprise Server for afloat systems, which would allow use of BlackBerry, Apple and Android devices.

NMCI contract managers can get a guide for making the switch online from the Naval Supply Systems Command.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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