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Satellite Communications—today’s critical resource for protecting national security but it is so hard to get connected

Milsatcom and comsatcom should work together to meet today’s challenges

This week commercial satellite communications industry members came together with leaders of the U.S. and allied military satellite community to streamline the milsatcom acquisition process to better protect U.S. space assets. Both the military and commercial communities understand that space technology must function effectively at all times to protect the U.S. and its allies. I agree, but is this the main reason for pursuing efficient satcom procurement or is the important driver supporting military users to achieve mission success at the tactical edge?. If acquiring critical satellite communications is complicated for the men and women who ensure national security, then will the space assets be available when needed for a mission? XTAR sees this stumbling block so we work with U.S. and allied governments to guarantee simpler satellite comms procurement for missions anywhere on the globe. This week, MilSatCom USA included many discussions to help fix this issue, but changes must enable a more efficient user experience. Doug Loverro, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, reinforced this idea when he said in a speech that not having communications is inexcusable.

Let me explain interactions XTAR has had with satcom users who have a mission to fulfill, but sometimes do not know when they will have the tools to complete this task.

Firstly, XTAR has learned that the warfighter does not usually know about commercial X-band satellite solutions that enable easy transition to and from X-band on WGS. They see WGS as the only satellite resource, and it has no ‘cost’ to the end user as the Air Force foots the bill for all space assets, including WGS bandwidth. Why even consider other options if they cost more? Users constantly see the need for greater efficiency, so XTAR becomes a natural WGS alternative that also fulfills their specific timing.

In one scenario, we sat down with users that needed an alternative to WGS. They were having trouble getting reliable and timely service on WGS while on mission, and actually spent about 2 days attempting to get their link to close. These men and women started to see that the government system is not always the best solution if it is not available for their specific mission. XTAR worked to support this maritime application using an 18-inch, X-band shipboard antenna system that required one link running at 2 Mbps x 2 Mbps. After finally deciding on XTAR capacity, these users got what they needed within 15 minutes. Boom, they were up and operating without new equipment, just a new frequency assignment.  Efficient and effective service. In today’s contested environment where missions heavily depend on ISR for decision-making, the warfighter wants to deploy a communications network quickly, not after several days, as losing time is inefficient and financially wasteful. Bottom line, XTAR’s X-band service provided a much better user experience, and enabled the users to move ahead with their mission.

Other users have also experienced the bureaucratic and cumbersome nature of gaining access to the WGS satellite network. We recently had a user who first attempted to use WGS for service. When they learned they were not given enough priority to access the needed milsatcom for their training exercise, they looked at leasing commercial Ku-band, a frequent choice. Before booking this option, the user looked at XTAR and saw the efficiencies X-band has in supporting their sub-1 meter antenna– it took less bandwidth on X than Ku. When their mission actually needed to proceed, they still did not have WGS capacity assured.  They priced XTAR service and found that we were fast and easy for getting service with favorable commercial terms for example, once you lease it, it’s yours, you can’t be bumped off and we guarantee the data rates unlike on WGS.

These actual users have shown us difficulties in integrating comsatcom for military purposes into the milsatcom architecture creates bottlenecks, loss of time and money and postponement of missions. XTAR brings solutions to these issues with its laser-like focus, expertise and value to the government user. I hope you can see why XTAR has such an important role for U.S. and allied militaries–their military purpose is our purpose, everyday, 24/7.