Annual Report 2021
Bittium in 2021
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Defense & Security

Tactical and Secure Communication Systems

In the Defense & Security product and service area Bittium offers globally leading products and services for its customers in the defense, security and public safety markets. Bittium´s competitiveness in these markets is based on trust and reliability, high-quality products and services, as well as on advanced technology and security know-how developed within the company for more than 35 years.

Bittium Tough Mobile™ product family
At the core of the information security features of the Bittium Tough Mobile smartphones lies their multilayered security structure, which is based on a hardened Android™ operating system, unique hardware solutions, and the information security features, and software integrated into the source code. The phones are fully designed and manufactured in Finland and Bittium ensures supervised and secure manufacturing and supply of the smartphones to customers. Bittium Tough Mobile smartphones together with Bittium Secure Suite device management and encryption software product can be certified for secure use of different national government authorities. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C smartphone together with Bittium Secure Suite back-end system form a smartphone-based communication solution that has been certified for CONFIDENTIAL security level (NCSA-FI). As the smartphones have been designed for use by authorities, they have a significantly longer availability and lifespan and better availability of security updates compared to conventional smartphones.

Bittium Secure Suite™ is a device management and encryption software product that complements Bittium Tough Mobile smartphone with a scalable set of new software services for remote management, remote attestation and securing the network connections of the device. Bittium Tough Mobile smartphone and Bittium Secure Suite form a unique, complete, reliable system for processing and transferring sensitive and classified material and securing critical communication.

Bittium Secure Call™ is a communication application for public authorities and businesses with security for end-to-end encrypted voice and video calls, group calls, messages with attachments, group messaging, push-to-talk voice messages and a message that is destroyed after a predetermined time. Authority-level security is achieved when Bittium Secure Call is used in conjunction with Bittium Tough Mobile smartphones and the Bittium Secure Suite background system.

Bittium Specialized Device Platform™ is a versatile device platform leveraging the latest mass-market mobile device hardware and software technologies. The platform enables companies to roll out fully customized mobile devices in various form factors (incl. module, smartphone, tablet and smart watch) faster and with lower development risks. The platform has been productized to public safety, security, industrial and smart watch markets. One of the major products based on this platform is the secure Bittium Tough Mobile smartphone.

Bittium SafeMove® Mobile VPN software enables the utilization of all IP based applications and networks by securing the connections between the work station and corporate services immediately from the startup of the phone. With Bittium SafeMove, for instance home care workers are allowed to have full access to the same systems and applications they would have on a hospital desktop, enabling safe and real-time access to patient records. The new SafeMove Streams feature enables opimized, durable and secure connectivity, even when the network connections in use are unreliable and sensitive for interference.

Bittium SafeMove® Analytics is an advanced monitoring and reporting module that helps organizations to monitor network connectivity and performance to improve productivity and user experience. The analytics tool continuously gathers connectivity data such as connectivity status, speed, throughput and bytes transferred, network type and Wi-Fi network information. It is also easy to enhance the tool with positioning information if GPS data is available. In addition, the new security features enable immediate report of possible security deviations in the mobile phones used by the employees. This enables reacting to the cyber threats without any delay, for example by disconnecting device that reported the deviation, from the company network for the time of clearance of the situation.

Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™ (TAC WIN) is a Software-Defined Radio based wireless broadband network system intended for military and public safety use. With the system MANET (mobile ad hoc network), link, and connection networks can be formed into one logical IP network quickly, no matter where the location is. Bittium TAC WIN is compatible with existing fixed and wireless network infrastructures. The core of the system is a tactical router that enables users to freely form both wired and wireless broadband data transfer IP connections. The tactical router also enables connections to different types of terminals and other communication systems connecting them into one communication network. In addition to the router, the system comprises of three types of radio heads, and each radio head covers its own frequency band area and can be used for flexible formation of optimized network topologies for different communication needs. All the products of the system are designed for harsh conditions, and thanks to the system´s automated functions the implementation of the system can be done quickly. Due to the software-based functionality of the Bittium TAC WIN system, it can be easily updated with additional performance cost-efficiently during the whole lifespan of the system.

The Bittium Tough SDR™ product family of tactical radios consists of Bittium Tough SDR Handheld™, handheld radio for individual soldiers, and Bittium Tough SDR Vehicular™, tactical radio for vehicle installations. Bittium Tough SDR products help to produce and share real-time situational awareness (location, image, voice, video, and sensor data) to all levels of the organization. The uniquely wide frequency range of the radios brings combat resistance and the use of multiple waveforms such as Bittium TAC WIN Waveform™, Bittium Narrowband Waveform™ and ESSOR Wide Band Waveform simultaneously improves compatibility and allows for different tasks and levels depending on the situation. Together with the SDR- based Bittium TAC WIN system, it is possible to bring broadband data and voice to all mobile troops starting from brigade level and all the way across the battlefield.

Bittium Tough VoIP™ product family´s products enable tactical IP calls and broadband data transfer even in demanding conditions. Products are easily integrated into existing IP infrastructure. The product family consists of a range of tactical IP-based communication products, including Bittium Tough Comnode™ device and Bittium Tough VoIP Field Phone as well as Bittium Tough VoIP Service and Bittium Tough VoIP Softphone software products.

Bittium Tough Comnode™ fulfills the data transfer needs for mobile troops by functioning for example as a VoIP phone (Voice over IP), an IP router (Internet Protocol), and an SHDSL repeater (Symmetrical High-speed Digital Subscriber Line). Additionally, Bittium Tough Comnode also provides SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) server functionalities of the tactical voice network for commercial VoIP terminals and enables using also legacy Combat Net Radios (CNR) as part of the IP-based tactical communication system (Radio over IP, RoIP).

Bittium Tough VoIP Field Phone™ is a SIP (Session Initation Protocol) compliant client that provides interoperability with other SIP clients and server implementations available in the market and incorporates functionality that enables introduction of VoIP services in dynamic self-forming networks independent from server.

Bittium Tough VoIP Service™ is a software product, which can be used to connect both fixed data network users and wireless tactical data network users to the same voice service network. It is a flexible and decentralized solution designed specifically for mobile troops. It can be installed on routing elements of the network, such as the Bittium TAC WIN Tactical Router™, the Bittium Tough Comnode™ device or the Bittium Tough SDR™ radios.

Bittium Tough VoIP Softphone™ is a VoIP software product designed especially for tactical use. It can be used for VoIP calls, instant messaging, conference calls and screen sharing in the Bittium Tough VoIP Service network either with a PC or smartphone.

Bittium Tactical Power Pack™ is specifically designed for tactical data transfer as an accessory to the Bittium Tough SDR Handheld™ radio and the Bittium Tough Comnode™ device, for example, but can also be easily used with standard tablets and smartphones via USB. The Tactical Power Pack enables uninterrupted field operation for the devices.

Bittium Tactical LTE Access Point™ is a stand-alone LTE access solution that enables the creation of multiple parallel wireless LTE areas and seamless connection to an IP network. The Tactical LTE Access Point is fully compatible with the Bittium TAC WIN backbone network. With the solution, different troops can benefit from cost-effective and fast multimedia data transfer and VoIP services with both commercial smartphones and special terminals intended for government use.

Bittium Tactical Device Management™ is an advanced system that enables secure deployment and operative use for the tactical communication devices. With the system, different defense forces can maintain sovereign, centralized, and efficient control over Bittium´s tactical devices. The system enables preparation of the devices for operative use and management of the devices during operative use, including commissioning, software updates, and key management.

Bittium Tactical Network Management™ is an easy-to-use and visual system for managing Bittium´s tactical communication networks and network nodes, including Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™, Bittium Tough SDR™, and Bittium Tough Comnode™. Different defense forces can use the system´s tools for planning the locations of the networks and their nodes so that optimal network performance can be achieved.  When the networks are in operative use, the system provides a real-time and reliable status view of network operation and node configurations. The data collected from the networks and nodes during operative use is recorded and can be easily analyzed. This enables optimizing the network performance for upcoming operations.

Year 2021

Cooperation with the Finnish Defence Forces continued closely during 2021. Deliveries of products required for tactical communication continued, however, the shortage of components slowed down the delivery schedule. Despite the challenging availability of components in the fourth quarter, a significant number of products were delivered to the customers, which was reflected in fourth-quarter revenue growth in Defense and Security products.

Deliveries of the first phase of the Bittium Tough SDR™ handheld and vehicle radios and related accessories, agreed under the purchase agreement between the Finnish Defence Forces and Bittium, published in December 2018, were almost completed. The poor availability of components needed in production slowed down the final deliveries. The Finnish Defence Forces launched the Field Radio 2020 project, which serves the testing and operational implementation of Bittium Tough SDR products and their waveforms and is preparing the purchase of the next batch of products to expand the Defence Forces´ testing activities and preparations for the commissioning of radios. With the current understanding, the annual order volumes stated in the letter of intent to acquire new tactical radios, published in August 2017, will be reached from 2024 onwards. The Defence Forces have been involved in defining the Bittium Tough SDR™ system from the beginning of the project and believe to achieve a significant performance improvement through the system. Alongside the testing and introduction of the radios, the development of the waveforms used in the radios continued as planned. 

The development of the Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™ software-defined radio system continued in cooperation with the Finnish Defense Forces as planned. In March, the Defense Forces ordered products from the TAC WIN system and Bittium Tough Comnode™ products based on the existing framework agreements for the purchase of the products. The share of TAC WIN products was approximately EUR 8.5 million and the share of Bittium Tough Comnode was approximately EUR 1.7 million. All products have been delivered to the Defence Forces during 2021.

Cooperation with the Estonian Defense Forces continued closely in the supply of tactical communication products and systems, which complement the tactical communication system already delivered for the customer. The product deliveries are based on a framework agreement between Bittium´s Estonian partner Telegrupp AS and the Estonian Defense Forces, and it covers the years 2021–2025. The deliveries, integration work and testing of tactical communication system products were also continued with the Austrian Defense Forces.

In November, a4ESSOR, a multinational joint venture developing secure European software defined radio technology, launched a new ESSOR New Capabilities (ENC) project to develop new ESSOR waveforms interoperable with partner countries´ radios and to improve the existing system to enable the waveforms portability to the national radios. The new project aims to improve the interoperability and security of ground-to-ground, air-to-ground and satellite-based tactical data transmission. In this project, Bittium will focus on the development of ground-to-ground and air-to-ground waveforms. Earlier in May, a4ESSOR received official approval for its ESSOR High Data Rate Base Waveform.

The importance of mobile security in communications has increased and the demand for the secure Bittium Tough Mobile™ 2 smartphones grew steadily over the past year. The security classification of the phone and its related system plays a key role, especially in the governmental market. Bittium actively applies for security classification certificates in various countries together with its customers. The customer experience of the Secure Call communication application, launched on the Tough Mobile 2 phone at the beginning of the year, has been positive and the delivery volumes of the Secure Call application increased.

Deliveries of Mexsat satellite phones designed for the Mexican state´s Mexsat satellite communications system continued. The resale cooperation with the Mexican telecommunications solutions provider Inmosat has worked well and the products of the first order related to the distributor agreement have been delivered to the customer. The product deliveries to Mexico are expected to continue this year.

Market outlook

Defense and Public Safety Market

In the defense market´s tactical communications sector, the governments´ defense forces and other authorities need networks that troops, who are more and more constantly on the move, can use and transfer growing amounts of data securely. This creates demand for Bittium Tactical Wireless IP Network™ (TAC WIN) broadband network, Bittium Tough SDR™ handheld and vehicular radios, and for other Bittium´s IP-based (Internet Protocol) tactical communication solutions that fulfill the needs of data transfer of moving troops and individual soldiers. Bittium continues its efforts to bring its defense market targeted products and services also to the international defense markets and aims to get new international customers for its tactical communication system in 2022. Due to the long sales cycles driven by purchasing programs of national governments, it will take time to receive purchase orders. Exceptional circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic have to some extent affected the progress of programs, which has slowed down the completion of larger deals.

The financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic affect the budgets of public finances such as states and public authorities and have required postponing of procurement. This has somewhat delayed the launch of new projects and receiving orders. Especially in the defense and authorities´ markets testing and piloting of products and systems are typical phases before receiving orders of larger entities, and current circumstances due to the pandemic situation have caused delays in them. However, the market has begun to recover from the effects of the pandemic. The global shortage of components affects the availability of various components used in products, which affects the company´s ability to deliver products to its customers on time.

The use of LTE technology, smartphones, and applications continue to increase in special verticals, such as public safety, creating demand for Bittium Tough Mobile™ secure LTE smartphone and other customized special terminals based on Bittium´s own product platform. The awareness of mobile security risks is growing, and the interest in secure mobile devices is increasing. The sales of secure terminal products are expected to develop moderately according to the nature of public safety markets.

The smartphone sales process often involves testing and piloting systems and equipment, possibly integrating third-party technologies, and possible local regulatory approvals, which are typically lengthy processes. Exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic may have a significant impact on the progress of projects, which slows down the closings of larger transactions.