When you are on a mission, you need to stay connected, move rapidly and ensure that you have the available bandwidth to enable all the applications (including sensor data, video transmission, and communications relay) needed to ensure mission success and troop safety. In the past, military users had to choose between systems — one that provided enough bandwidth for all their applications or one that was easily transportable and small in size, weight and power (SWaP). With FlexGround, troops no longer have to choose.
By leveraging Intelsat’s multi-layered, Ku-band network and Intelsat EpicNG high-throughput satellite platform, FlexGround delivers unprecedented data rate transmissions enabling converged data, voice and video communications to the smallest, land mobile terminals and meeting the high-definition full-motion video (HD FMV) needs of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications. The combination of very high data rates, between 3x and 10x the speed of existing satellite networks, and the very small terminals provide ground forces with the optimal solution for mobility without sacrificing speed.
Another challenge that military users face is service provisioning. In the past, organizations had to operate “Do-It-Yourself” satellite networks. They had to buy, build, operate and maintain an entire global satellite services infrastructure. Many times, the infrastructure that was constructed was very expensive and time consuming to manage, did not have full global coverage and as a result, users found themselves in situations when they did not have the bandwidth they needed at the right time or location. What they really needed was a network that would support something similar to a cell phone plan that was available anytime, anyplace and at an affordable price.
As a managed end-to-end service, FlexGround takes the complexity out of SATCOM for our military users. If offers cost-effective, high-performance, broadband connectivity to a wide range of military ground applications including Communications-on-the-Pause, Manpack, and Emergency Responder communications. First of all, it is a global service that provides service availability almost immediately whenever and wherever it is needed. It also provides government customers with the ability to choose among several service options, including a pay-as-you-go option, allowing them to choose a plan based on their data rate usage, and geographic and budgetary needs without having to make an upfront commitment.
Instances where FlexGround is a clear candidate
Early entry. Organizations are particularly challenged in early entry or surge situations in austere locations. In these cases, the network infrastructure just isn’t there and quite often, there is no cell phone coverage because there are no cell phone towers. Yet, these government customers, even early on, require broadband for data, voice, video – not only for their operational requirements but also for force protection. FlexGround is a clear candidate because of its global footprint, its high-data rate transmissions and the small SATCOM systems they enable. It provides for the mobility that troops need in the fields without sacrificing performance.
HADR (Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief). In this case, a natural disaster (hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, etc) destroys infrastructure – there is no terrestrial or cell phone towers left, and one of the top requirements is to restore communications as quickly as possible. Doing so will help support the work of the First Responders, coordinate activities across different humanitarian organizations and importantly, connect those impacted with their loved ones and with aid groups.
Continuity of Operations (COOP). Organizations must consider how to continue critical operations under a broad range of circumstances, and communications between organizations can help determine the success or failure of a mission. Often, in the more austere environments, organizations find that they do not have adequate bandwidth or are vulnerable to jamming or terrestrial line cuts.
In the past, SATCOM as an alternate or complementary transport layer was considered attractive, but too expensive. Now FlexGround enables SATCOM as a viable, even desirable, solution for COOP. Even in the event of a catastrophic terrestrial cut, FlexGround can serve as an interim solution until terrestrial service is restored. And the user doesn’t pay anything until they use it – it does not get more affordable than that!
The benefits of managed services relating too FlexGround
- At Your Service. As an end-to-end managed service, FlexGround takes the guesswork out of determining whether bandwidth will be available where and when you need it, leaving your teams free to work on their mission critical tasks, without owning or maintaining any Hub based hardware
- Global Availability. Leveraging Intelsat’s Ku-band satellite network built around the latest high-throughput satellite technology, Intelsat EpicNG, you’ll have access to our satellite and terrestrial network, covering 90% of the world’s population. This platform provides powerful localized spot beams, multiple layers of pre-committed capacity on our Flex network for redundancy, and enhanced interference mitigation delivering the highest quality connectivity.
- Great for Mobility without Sacrificing Speed. These powerful satellites enable, for the first time, use of the smallest land mobile terminals (SWaP) connectivity solutions tested, qualified, and approved to operate across Intelsat’s Flex network delivering data rates of up to 10 Mbps x 3 Mbps. These grab-and-go terminals for both Manpacks and COTP easily fit in an overhead flight compartment or checked as baggage. Applications and systems are easy to operate and maintain, even by non-technical operators, providing wider use across the spectrum of user operations.
- Simplified Ecosystem. FlexGround also aggregates Intelsat’s space segment and the IntelsatOne ground infrastructure into a simplified, streamlined ecosystem. By having one cohesive network, our customers will immediately gain operational efficiencies.
- Affordable and Flexible Pricing. Designed with our customers in mind, only Intelsat General offers a multitude of pricing plans from Pay-as-you-go to monthly and unlimited options as well as the capability to pool several terminals within the same subscription plan.
- The Most Secure Network with Unmatched Redundancy and Resiliency. Intelsat has the highest security posture in the commercial satellite industry, meeting and/or exceeding all DoD cybersecurity standards under the Risk Management Framework, and we are the only operator with a third-party Service Organization Controls (SOC-3) accreditation through KPMG. And, customers have 24/7 access to the Intelsat Secure Operations Center for network monitoring, carrier activation and troubleshooting.
The good news is that the time is right for a change. New satellite technologies such as High-Throughput Satellites and easier to use terminals are coming together at the right time. Governments are more receptive to Managed Services rather than a DIY approach.
This gives the U.S. Government (USG), for example, a great opportunity to refresh their systems and to finally get the performance, security, and affordability that they have been seeking and that is available today.
This does require a change in the way that the USG looks at SATCOM. We have to keep in mind that SATCOM is not “unique” requiring a “special” solution – no more than terrestrial or cellular transport is “unique.” Once we understand that SATCOM is just another transport layer then we can treat it the same way that we treat terrestrial or cellular service.
The USG does not own and operate its own terrestrial fiber or cellular infrastructure – it just wants the service. The USG does not want to spend the money to establish and run these infrastructures and that’s the correct conclusion – these are not inherently Government functions; the USG can use these services without needing to own them. In the same way, the USG can gain the same benefits for SATCOM – global flexibility, economies of scale, fast provisioning of service – if it starts to use managed service such as FlexGround.
The Commercial SATCOM Industry is ready and proven. Leaders such as Intelsat have demonstrated their reliability in times of war and peace and are largely providing the majority of these services now. The USG just needs to take the final steps and take advantage of all the benefits that managed services offer.