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General Dynamics Sectéra Edge

Dual personality military smartphone
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Though it looks a bit like it, the Sectéra Edge by General Dynamics is not your average Blackberry clone. Instead, it is a SME-PED — a Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device. The device was specifically developed for the National Security Agency's SME-PED program and is certified by the NSA for voice communications classified up to the Top Secret level and access to email and web-sites classified at the Secret level and below.

The Sectéra is designed to work both as a standard PDA/smartphone as well as a device for secure wireless access to classified and unclassified government networks such as the US SIPRNET (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) and NIPRNET. Phone calls likewise can be conducted in classified and unclassified mode. Switching between the two modes is just a single key press away.

The two modes necessitate two displays. There is a standard 2.8-inch color touchscreen where Windows Mobile does its usual thing, and there is a trusted LCD display below the 47-key QWERTY thumbtype keyboard with integrated number pad. USB connectivity likewise is split into a classified and an unclassified port. The device measures 4.9 x 3.2 inches and is 1.3 inches thick. It weighs about 12 ounces.

The unit can accommodate interchangeable wireless modules that support CDMA protocols via Sprint and GSM protocols via T-Mobile and AT&T. International secure voice and data service is available through Worldcell. An 802.11b/h wireless module is available also. The device uses the Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol (SCIP) for secure voice and High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor Interoperability Specification (HAIPE IS) for secure high-speed packet data like email and web apps. The Sectéra complies with DOD Directive 8100.2 which describes the use of commercial wireless devices that can store, process, or transmit data. There is also a reader for Common Access Cards (CACs) for digital encrypting and signing of email via public key certificates.

On the ruggedness side, General Dynamics designed the Sectéra to meet the usual MIL-STD 810F specifications for multiple 4-foot drops, vibrations, water, dust, humidity and altitude. Operating temperature range is -9 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and sealing appears to be at the IP65 level.

All of this does not come cheap. The base price of a Sectéra Edge is US$2,650 and to that you need to add US$700 for one of the wireless modules.

Added/updated Added 3/2008; updated 1/2009
Form-factor Ruggedized smartphone
CPU Speed Unknown
OS Windows Mobile
RAM/ROM Separate classified (64/64) and unclassified (64/128) flash ROM and SDRAM
Card slots 1 microSD (up to 2GB)
Display type Color TFT 64k color + LCD trusted display
Display size/res 2.8"/ 320 x 240
Digitizer/pens touch/1
Keyboard/keys 47-key QWERTY
Navigation directional control joystick, touch screen
Housing plastic/metal
Operating Temp -9 to 140F
Sealing Estimated IP65
Shock Unknown
Size (WxHxD) 3.2 x 4.9 x 1.3
Weight 12 oz.
Power Removable Li-Ion
Interface USB, classified USB, classified serial, DoD PKI-enabled CAC reader, 2.5mm audio jack
Wireless GSM (850/900/1800/1900)/EDGE
GSM (850/1900/2100) UMTS, HSDPA, or
CDMA (800/1900) 1xRTT, CDMA (800/1900) EV-DO Rel. A, or
802.11b/g WiFi
Secure speech processing G.729D, MELP
List price US$2,650 w/o wireless module, US$3,350 with wireless module
Contact General Dynamics Sectera Edge
Windows Mobile Info
  • Windows Mobile 6
  • Windows Mobile 5
  • Windows Mobile Smartphone
  • Windows Mobile 2003
  • Windows CE .Net
  • Windows for Pocket PC 2002
  • Pocket PC intro 2000
  • Windows CE H/PC Pro 1998
  • Windows CE 2.0 1997
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