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Leased Commercial

On 8 November 1993, the Defense Department promulgated new policy guidance for the use of commercial satellite communications.(1) This policy was an outgrowth, in part, of the congressionally mandated Commercial Satellite Communications Initiative studies and the demonstrable benefits available from an increased use of commercial SATCOM for military applications.

The CSCI studies demonstrated the applicability of commercial SATCOM to a variety of command, control, communications and intelligence missions. The new policy guidance establishes the framework to integrate the department's efforts for implementing commercial capabilities and will guide the resulting commercial service investment strategy to ensure a cost-effective augmentation of military satellite capabilities by the department.

The policy states, to the extent operationally and fiscally practical, the DoD will augment its military SATCOM capability with both domestic and international commercial services. To ensure maximum savings are achieved through economies of scale, all acquisition of commercial SATCOM services shall be consistent with the approved Defense Information Services Network acquisition strategy and shall be acquired through the auspices of the Defense Commercial Communications Office of the Defense Information Systems Agency, as a single manager.

As the use of commercial SATCOM increases throughout the Department, basic interoperability among Fixed Satellite Service terminals will be established and maintained through the use of appropriate standards, and in a manner consistent with advancing commercial technology. To the maximum extent practical, all new military transportable FSS earth terminals shall be acquired with the ability to access both the commercial C and Ku frequency bands.

In support of this tasking, the department recently hosted a defense wide commercial SATCOM conference which allowed for the exchange of ideas on the use of commercial satellite systems. DISA captured this information into a program plan and for the first time, fully laid out a comprehensive departmental commercial SATCOM strategy.

The Navy's Commercial Wideband satellite communications systems are used to provide wideband connectivity and Quality of Life communications services to the fleet. Commercial Wideband SATCOM leverages Commercial Satellite Communications to provide high data rate connectivity (1.544 Megabits Per Second (Mbps) to deployed Naval Forces. Connectivity provides for voice, video and data in support of C4I and Quality of Life requirements.


The Iridium System is the first commercially available, cross-linked, pole-to-pole global Mobile Satellite System (MSS). It is a satellite-based, global wireless personal communications network designed to permit any type of narrow band wireless transmission (i.e.; voice, data, fax, or paging) to reach its destination nearly anywhere on Earth.

The Iridium network consists of a space segment employing a constellation of 66 satellites in six evenly spaced, nearly polar orbital planes, about 420 nautical miles above the Earth's surface. By linking the satellites and terrestrial gateways, the system provides global access and coverage through specially designed portable and mobile telephones. Seamless connectivity to cellular systems anywhere in the world is provided to phones equipped with an optional cellular Cassette.

An Iridium gateway links the orbiting Iridium constellation with the various terrestrial telecommunication systems located within the gateway's territory. It enables subscribers to call and receive calls (unless barred) from non-Iridium telephones throughout the world and provides a "home" where the subscriber's location and calling activity are discretely captured and monitored.

For MSS customers, DOD has established a dedicated Government MSS gateway in Wahiawa, Hawaii for government use through the Defense Information System Network (DISN). Through this gateway EMSS subscribers will have direct connection into the DISN, which is capable of providing secure services, in addition to providing non-secure access to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

The Iridium system is owned and operated by Iridium LLC, a private international consortium of leading telecommunication and industrial companies. Motorola is the exclusive supplier of the gateways that interconnect the Iridium satellite network with the various terrestrial Public (and Private) Switched Telephone Networks (PSTNs) and cellular telephone systems throughout the world.

DISA has contracted with Motorola to provide EMSS services to DoD and other Federal agencies. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DITCO) will establish the necessary accounts (designated by a Program Designator Code) with which to bill government end users.

Provisioning EMSS equipment and services will be accomplished through DoDís process for procuring telecommunications services, managed by the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DITCO). The requester is responsible for completing the approval actions as specified in the Service/Agency EMSS approval procedures.

Television Direct To Sailors (TVDTS)

Television Direct To Sailors (TVDTS) started when Secretary of Defense Perry and CNO Admiral Boorda, on separate occasions, noticed the beneficial implications of the reception of live television at sea for Sailors and Marines. These implications included higher levels of morale and quality of life, as well as access to current, real-time news and information. Subsequently, Dr. Perry directed that all deploying ships have the ability to receive live television at sea. Admirals Davis (N6) and Pease (CHINFO) jointly embarked on a program to provide equipment and satellite time to accomplish the TV-DTS objective. Armed Forces Radio and Television Service arranged for the commercial satellite leases and provides the bulk of the television programming. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command is supplying the shipboard antenna systems. The Naval Media Center, which provides shipboard receiving and decoding equipment, operates the television programming facility and is responsible for programming content.

TV-DTS is designed to improve the situational awareness and quality of life of deployed Sailors and Marines by providing shipboard access to real-time news, sports and entertainment programming. This programming consists of two television channels, two audio music channels, one radio news channel, and a data channel capable of supplying print media.

One of the television channels provides sitcoms, movies, network news programs, and prime sports (World Series, etc.). The second television channel provides CNN, Headline News and ESPN programming. Programming is specifically targeted to Sailors and Marines at sea for extended deployments. The print media currently provided over the data channel includes Earlybird, Timesfax (condensed New York Times), StripesLite (condensed version of Stars and Stripes) and various CHINFO and Navy news services.

The Navy is currently producing and inserting its own commercial spot breaks into the programming to provide Navy-specific command information to Sailors and Marines at sea. In addition, the Navy produces and airs a two minute news update five days per week as a hard-news supplement to the weekly Navy/Marine Corps News broadcast news program. Future plans for the television programming include increasing the content of Navy unique programming, and including local newscasts from homeports such as Norfolk and San Diego. The future for the data channel will include homeport newspapers and base newsletters.


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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Thursday, April 13, 2000 8:00:03 AM