Officials said September 7 at Satellite 2021 convention in National Harbor, Maryland, that companies that offer low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband see the US Defense Department as a crucial customer, but that they are contested to create their networks functional with government ground systems as well as user terminals. Manufacturers of satellites and terminals are manufacturing, evaluating, and deploying hardware in orbit at a faster rate than ever before. Still, the government is often unable to take advantage of the new technology due to legacy infrastructure, according to Dylan Browne, who serves as the president of the OneWeb’s government sector.
Browne believes that interoperability between government and commercial gear is a greater problem than manufacturing and deploying satellites. The corporation now has 288 satellites in space and plans to install a 650-satellite constellation to provide worldwide communications services. Hughes Network Systems has hired OneWeb as a subcontractor on a project to offer DoD connection in the Arctic. Browne expects OneWeb to expand its military presence, but compliance with government user terminals continues a challenge.
Browne explained, “We’re not dreamers; we know there’s legacy infrastructure.” OneWeb’s network was built “for a variety of use cases, including the US government and military,” he claimed. “Creating a seamless service is the challenge.” The Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) programme, according to Browne, is a bright spot in Department of Defense’s embrace of the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity. Over the last two years, the Army and Air Force have granted multiple contracts to test the usage of the commercial space broadband aboard the military systems and evaluate the performance of various services and terminals.
However, the business is advancing much quicker than the Department of Defense’s experiments, according to Browne. “All of our clients, comprising the Department of Defense, set the pace for us as commercial, for-profit organizations, and it is quick. We’re not going to wait.” “We understand,” Browne said, that commercial providers are aware of the government’s procurement process. “Capacity has been set aside for the Department of Defense.”
To fill the gap between government user gear and OneWeb’s network, the company announced on September 7 that it has partnered with Kymeta to create an electronically navigated flat panel antenna that can communicate with the geostationary satellites employing government modems as well as OneWeb’s LEO satellites. According to Brian Billman, who serves as the vice president in charge of the broadband antenna provider Isotropic Systems, the industry is attempting to build technology that is as interoperable as possible. At the same time, the government has its own set of requirements. According to him, equipment must be “modular” so that it may be customized for different consumers.
SES, which conducts communications satellites in the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), is Isotropic’s broadband services partner. This company, SES, has been putting Isotropic’s terminals through their paces for commercial and military clients.