Attempts to develop a new battlefield communications system based on wireless fidelity (WiFi) for the U.S. military is on track to receive a $2.7 million boost from Congress.

The WiFi Test Lab at the Defense and Security Technology Accelerator in Fayetteville will receive the funds assuming the fiscal year 2008 defense appropriations bill wins approval in the Senate, Congressman Robin Hayes said Wednesday. The bill has already passed in the House Appropriations Committee and is expected to be passed soon by the full house, Hayes said.

Hayes, a Republican who represents the Congressional district that includes Fayetteville and Cumberland County, helped secure the first $1 million in funding for the lab last year.

The DSTA, which is a project of the Partnership for Defense Innovation in Cumberland County, has set aside one of its four labs for research into WiFi development. Several of its current tenants also work on communications related technology.

The DSTA was established to help develop technology for U.S. military forces, including Special Forces that are based at nearby Fort Bragg, and also to help commercialize technology developed by the Pentagon. It also receives funding from the North Carolina General Assembly.

"This federal funding secured by Congressman Hayes will foster collaboration between the military and the intelligence community with North Carolina entrepreneurs and innovators to bring critically needed defense technologies to market in an 8-18 month, rapid timeline,” said Scott Perry, a former Special Forces member who is general manager of the DSTA.

In a statement, Hayes said the funds will help advance “wireless battlefield networks.”

"Supporting defense research creates improved equipment for our military but it also creates jobs and opportunities for Fayetteville, area businesses, and the surrounding communities,” Hayes said. “Most importantly, this research has immense implications for our soldiers communicating in the battlefield.”

A purpose of the WiFi lab is to develop a network for delivery of video, still imagery and sensor information from a variety of platforms.

At least three companies at the DSTA are focused on communications:

K-3 Enterprises: Its expertise is in geospatial data management, communications solutions, information technology implementations, security and logistical support.

Net Centric Services: The company designs and manufactures data communications products that incorporate cryptography for secure, converged communications.

Olivia Tower: The firm has developed a rapidly erectable communications tower than stands 150 feet tall. It is very mobile and is designed to improve battlefield communications.