DoD has to explain to Congress how it will buy low-latency satellite broadband

Lawmakers are involved DoD is just not satisfying the navy’s rising demand for high-speed web aboard Navy ships and different areas

WASHINGTON — The 2022 Nationwide Protection Authorization Act passed by the House Dec. 7 and despatched to the Senate directs the Pentagon to temporary lawmakers on navy use of business satellite tv for pc communications providers, particularly these from non-geostationary orbit satellites.

The availability is in response to a growing demand in the U.S. military for high-speed web aboard Navy ships and different areas the place there is no such thing as a terrestrial telecom and satellite tv for pc indicators are the one choice accessible. 

Satellites in non-geostationary orbits, resembling medium Earth orbits (MEO) and low Earth orbits (LEO) are at a lot decrease altitudes than conventional GEO satellites stationed 36,000 kilometers above the equator. Satellite tv for pc networks in MEO and LEO present low-latency communications providers, together with high-speed web.

The NDAA requires the secretary of protection to undergo congressional protection committees a “report on present industrial satellite tv for pc communication initiatives, together with with respect to new non-geostationary orbit satellite tv for pc applied sciences that the Division of Protection has employed to extend satellite tv for pc communication throughput to present platforms of the navy departments presently constrained by legacy capabilities.”

The availability was initially an modification launched by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), vice rating member of the Home Armed Companies Committee and the rating member on the seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

Wittman grew to become involved that the U.S. Navy doesn’t present ample connectivity aboard ships, making it troublesome for sailors and marines to video chat with their households or take on-line programs whereas on deployments. The state of affairs got here to a head through the covid pandemic when crews couldn’t make port calls and needed to stay aboard ships typically for greater than a 12 months, driving up the demand for web connections. 

Satellite tv for pc communications supplier SES — which operates the O3b MEO satellite tv for pc community — was a serious advocate for this modification, an organization spokesman advised SpaceNews. SES executives in an article titled “Billion-dollar ships with no sailors – why the Navy needs to prioritize connectivity” questioned why Navy ships lack high-speed web at a time when industrial satellite tv for pc firms are growing capability and providers for cell customers.

The spokesman mentioned SES labored with Wittman’s seapower subcommittee on the modification, which began out as a Navy-focused provision however was later revised to incorporate satcom for all DoD. 

Over the previous 12 months, the Navy has used two SES O3b terminals to supply MEO wi-fi for provider strike group throughout deployments. The Navy historically has relied on Inmarsat GEO satellite tv for pc providers however SES and different non-GEO suppliers resembling OneWeb have made the case that the navy can buy a mixture of satcom capabilities in a number of orbits and frequencies. The House Pressure group that oversees navy satcom procurement, the Business Satellite tv for pc Communications Workplace, is considering options to buy services from rising LEO and MEO suppliers however DoD primarily continues to depend on GEO satellites.

In accordance with the NDAA, DoD in its report back to Congress has to incorporate the next:

  • A possible funding technique on the best way to operationalize industrial satellite tv for pc communication capabilities utilizing non-geostationary orbit satellites throughout every of the navy departments.
  • Requisite funding required to adequately prioritize and speed up the mixing of such capabilities into warfighting programs.
  • Future-year spending projections for such efforts.
  • An built-in satellite tv for pc communications reference structure roadmap for the Division of Protection to realize a resilient, safe community for operationalizing industrial satellite tv for pc communication capabilities, together with by way of using non-geostationary orbit satellites. The community must be able to leveraging multi-band and multi-orbit architectures, together with necessities that allow most use of commercially accessible applied sciences.

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