On June 15, Intelsat General Communications (IGC) announced it would launch a new mobile broadband service — FlexGround Communications-On-The-Move — for the military and other users who require connectivity in remote areas where infrastructure is nonexistent. SpaceNews reported the service is aimed at users who rely on push-to-talk radios and low-bandwidth satellite communications.
The U.S. Army, the military’s largest consumer of satellite-based communications, is testing the service. IGC recently announced a three-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Army, focused on satellite communications technologies. The agreement was signed with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center. The goal is to provide global broadband coverage to deployed forces and improve latency, reported SpaceNews.
According to IGC President Skot Butler, FlexGround “provides connectivity from Intelsat’s high-capacity Epic geostationary satellites but uses small laptop-size antennas. The on-the-move capability is for both land vehicles and for small watercraft that operate in brown water close to the shore,” Butler told SpaceNews.
Additionally, FlexGround customers only pay for what they use. “If you only deploy ten days a month, you don’t have to buy full-time Satcom,” Butler added.
FlexGround is targeting current users of the Inmarsat L-band BGAN (broadband global area network) service, promising twice the data rate using the Ku and Ka bands. “We transmit five megabits per second down to a terminal. And we can transmit up to two megabits per second off of the terminal,” said Butler, compared to L-band terminals that transmit less than one megabit.
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