Want Bandwidth? Bring Money

Posted: March 21, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , ,

The cost of leasing commercial bandwidth for DoD may increase as much as 300 percent according to DISA.

The U.S. Defense Department in recent months has seen price increases as great as 300 percent for commercial satellite communications capacity as it transitions to a new contract vehicle for buying these services, government and industry officials said March 15.

Competition and a capacity glut have been useful in keeping costs down until now.  However, while the competition will still be there, the glut appears to be going away.  There’s also one number in the linked story that seems way low.

DISA spends about $400 million a year on commercial satellite services. DISA spokeswoman Tracy Sharpe was unable by press time to say whether the agency plans to increase its spending on these services or simply buy less capacity.

I’d heard/read recently – if I could only remember the source – that DoD (of course that’s not DISA) spends $900M to $1B a year for leased satellite bandwidth.

Here’s a line from a 2005 GAO report that sounds pretty believable:

DOD did not know exactly how much it was spending on commercial satellite services, nor did it know much about its service providers or whether customer needs were really being satisfied.     

Again, that GAO blurb gets back to the ‘DoD is not DISA’ thing.

How does satcom affect warfighting? Here’s one example:

“For every one request for UHF capacity [that’s accepted], five are denied,” she said. “Milsatcom is 500 percent oversubscribed. Communications on these narrowband frequencies are crucial to life or death, but the DOD is having significant difficulties maintaining this capacity because the UHF constellation on orbit today is fading.”

In the meantime,

…all eyes in the commercial satellite communications industry will be on the Future Comsatcom Services Acquisition (FCSA) contract, a joint effort by DISA and the General Services Administration through which they will buy all commercial satellite communications services and capabilities for the next decade under a common marketplace. Under FCSA, DISA and GSA expect to spend $5 billion for satellite services in any commercially available commercial satellite communications frequency band, including L, S, C, X, Ku, extended Ku, Ka and UHF.

How do you make money in, to, through, or from space?  As always, sell space services and/or hardware to the government.


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