Space Force Interested in Satellite Broadband

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The U.S. Space Force asked satellite internet companies for updates on the performance of their networks. The government needs the data to help federal agencies determine how to go about buying broadband services from low-orbit satellite operators, reports Space News.

The U.S. Space Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office wants to update information it received a year ago on P-LEO COMSATCOM, short for Proliferated Low Earth Orbit Commercial Satellite Communications. The office acquires satellite-based communications services on behalf of the Defense Department, other federal and state agencies, and governments of allied nations.  

A lot has happened in the industry over the past year, reports Space News, so procurement officials are updating their market research before they issue a draft request for proposals this summer. The office recently posted a new Request for Information.

The U.S. military buys communications services from low Earth orbit satellite operator Iridium and has been conducting experiments with emerging providers like SpaceX. P-LEO COMSATCOM would be the first attempt to buy broadband services on a broader scale from a new generation of providers. The Space Force is interested in bids from companies like SpaceX and OneWeb that already have operational networks, and also from companies that plan to start deploying constellations in the near future such as Telesat LEO and Amazon’s Kuiper, according to Space News

In the RFI, the Space Force says it’s interested in LEO broadband for its faster speeds and lower latency. To be eligible to compete for a Space Force contract, companies need to provide terminal-to-gateway latencies no greater than 50 milliseconds, or propagation delays between a user terminal and a satellite no greater than 15 milliseconds. Services with higher latencies will not be considered, according to the RFI.

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