The case for commercial SatCom in today’s military

There are many examples of how today’s military is dependent on data, reliant on information and in constant need of communication and collaboration.

Military intelligence relies on video footage from unmanned aircraft for information about enemy movements, weather and geography. Decision makers back at home connect face-to-face with leaders in the field via video collaboration for real time information gathering and to expedite decision making. And the same capabilities and applications that are available on a desktop at Fort Hood are expected to be available in a command center in theater.

Networks and information technology are now essential across all branches of the military to ensure that requisite data, applications and capabilities are available to all personnel and warfighters at all times. Unfortunately, this is a task that becomes increasingly difficult depending on where military personnel, employees and warfighters are stationed.

Bringing today’s advanced networks and the capabilities they deliver to the tip of the spear can be a challenge because there are simply no fiber optic links or networks in many of the locations where U.S. troops are currently deployed – such as Afghanistan and the Middle East.

These networks could be created by the military. However, establishing the networks that have the available bandwidth for today’s advanced IT capabilities could take years to implement. Also, this would often require running fiber through nations that aren’t necessarily friendly to the United States and its military interests. This raises questions about security and feasibility, and ultimately makes the implementation of physical networks downright impossible in some locations.

It’s for this reason that satellite communication (SATCOM) provided by commercial satellite service providers is becoming as essential to the military as the bandwidth it provides and data it delivers.

Commercial SATCOM services carry the signals from unmanned aircraft back to military decision makers. They empower video collaboration between deployed personnel and leaders in the field. They deliver the capabilities, applications and bandwidth that today’s military expects on base, out in the field.

But, they’re not without limitations.

In my next post on the GovSat Report, I’m going to delve into latency – an issue that impacts communication over geostationary satellites – how it impacts military operations in theater and how advanced technologies could soon make it a thing of the past.


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