Those who espouse the notion that commercial bandwidth is more expensive on a per-MHz rate than the cost of fielding a WGS system are likely overlooking several key factors. The average price for commercial bandwidth (as leased through DISA) divided by the lowest common denominator (the price of one MHz of commercial bandwidth for one year) is likely more expensive than the total cost of a WGS system (to the same lowest common denominator). But that simple comparison is only a part of the story.
The key elements that DoD sidesteps when addressing its commercial SATCOM requirements are flexibility and utilization. For instance, when the US military needed more bandwidth than WGS provided in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for operations in Afghanistan (colloquially called Southwest Asia) and Iraq (Middle East), commercial operators quickly and seamlessly supplemented necessary space segment where troops were deployed. This included allocating additional transponders to beams that cover the regions of interest, moving beams from elsewhere to provide additional coverage, rebalancing satellite fleets to bring satellites with additional capacity into the region, and ultimately, building new satellites with significant increased capacity to support the warfighters.
Commercial operators are significantly more adept at adjusting to supply and demand in a manner that benefits all parties involved. A bespoke government system like WGS requires up front payment for the entirety of assets whose shelf life starts counting down from the first payment. Each day capacity goes unused, that sunk cost is lost – forever. In contrast, commercial leases allow buyers to utilize and terminate capacity as needed. The on/off flexibility of commercial capacity affords government necessary coverage – on the latest technology. COMSATCOM has proven its reliability over the past 15 years in providing bandwidth resources when considered from a utilization and flexibility perspective.