The Defense Switched Network, or DSN, a secured phone line that in 1982 was developed and designated as the provider of long-distance communications services for the Department of Defense, is something that is not used often enough according to White Sands Missile Range Chief Information Officer Mark Tubbs.
DSN, developed to help save the government money and create a more secure line of communication, is still an essential tool today.
“It’s a cost for us to maintain it and the problem is we don’t have users who use it enough,” Tubbs said. “It was considered the primary source of communication during peacetime and after war.”
Tubbs said keeping DSN was a choice the installation made because of the testing that is done here and the agencies throughout the world that are involved in the testing. DSN has the capability to connect your calls from installation to installation at a much cheaper rate than with a standard phone company, said Andy Ruvalcaba, WSMR Communications branch chief.
DSN is cheaper because the Defense Information System Agency pick their telephone lines through the DSN network and therefore have more flexibility on providing those calls at a lower rate. The DSN calls are one cent per minute. If someone uses 9-9-1 to dial a long-distance call, the carrier charges upwards of five cents per minute. However, the cost to maintain DSN and the amount of people who use it hasn’t proven a large savings lately.
“I wish more customers on base would use it,” Ruvalcaba said.
He said the main reason he believes there is a lack of DSN use is people don’t know what DSN does and how it saves money. Though long-distance charges in general may be going away soon because he said internet-protocol voice over may soon be taking over. The future is phone calls made by going through an IP address instead of phone lines. Ruvalcaba describes it as skype without the video. For now, however, DSN is currently the cheapest form of communication for long-distance calls.
“If you’re making a long-distance call, using DSN is enough to make a difference (financially),” Ruvalcaba said.
Within the continental United States there are 128 DSN zones and 258 throughout the world. Tubbs said if there is an employee who is working off-post but still in the local area and he or she needs to make a long-distance, work-related, call, DSN is still available to them. Employees can call the operator and the operator can make the long-distance call for them. Calls can be made throughout any installation within Africa Command, Alaska, Canada, Europe, Pacific and Central.
“It interconnects all military locations worldwide and provides end-to-end long-distance (service),” Tubbs said.
To use DSN here at WSMR, first dial 9-4 then the DSN number. There are three prefixes within the installation. Those whose phone number starts with 678 will have their DSN start with 258. The phone numbers that start with 679 have the 349 prefix and the phone numbers that start with 674 have the 454 prefix. After dialing the prefix, just dial the last four numbers, or their extension, to complete the call.
For more information on DSN, call Andy Ruvalcaba at (575) 678-6332.