Today’s military is increasingly reliant on IT solutions and capabilities – both at home and in theater. Soldiers expect the same access to advanced IT capabilities in a forward operating base as they do in the states. This expectation and reliance on bandwidth-hungry IT capabilities and solutions, coupled with the extreme bandwidth requirements from high definition ISR data – including HD video – is drastically increasing the need for fiber-like connectivity anywhere on the planet where our military may be operating.
In some areas of the world, it may be logistically, politically and financially unfeasible to extend terrestrial fiber networks to the tactical edge. Satellite is the only way to get connectivity where it’s needed, but higher throughputs, more bandwidth and lower latency were required to offer the same experience as terrestrial fiber – and that’s why Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites have come into play.
MEO satellites are high throughput satellites (HTS) that are strategically located in an orbit closer to Earth, significantly cutting the distance that their signals have to travel and drastically reducing latency. The use of smaller spot beams in these MEO constellations also adds baked in security and mission assurance, since the signals are inherently harder to jam.
Because MEO allows for quick data transfer and secure lines of communication to keep our armed forces connected, it has grown in popularity. In fact, the Department of Defense recently announced its decision to lease an additional MEO beam in order to overcome connectivity challenges. The beam they’re leasing will provide secure, high throughput and low latency connectivity to the United States African command (U.S. AFRICOM).
SES Government Solutions alone provides more than 5 Gbps of capability to 18 different U.S. Government sites worldwide with its MEO constellation. That number is set to double by 2019 – keeping pace with government MEO demands – prior to more exciting news in 2021, with the launch of mPOWER, a fleet with terabyte systems capable of virtual fiber speeds.
Watch the video below to learn more about MEO satellites and how they are helping our armed forces in theater.