Military Satellite Communications:

Potential for Greater Use of Commercial Satellite Capabilities

T-NSIAD-92-39: Published: May 22, 1992. Publicly Released: May 22, 1992.

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GAO discussed the potential for greater use of commercial communication satellite capabilities to satisfy Department of Defense (DOD) general purpose communication requirements. GAO noted that: (1) according to an October 1991 DOD military satellite communications architecture study, general purpose communication satellite requirements are estimated to far exceed the existing and planned capacity of military communication satellite systems; (2) DOD believes that commercial communication satellites can satisfy its general purpose communication requirements because they offer significant coverage, capacity, and flexibility at potentially lower costs; (3) historically, DOD has leased such satellites on an individual circuit basis, which can be very costly; (4) the Defense Information Service Agency recommended creating private networks as a cost-effective alternative, but this alternative may be flawed because of restrictions associated with the government operating in nongovernment radio frequency bands; (5) an off-the-shelf, commercially equivalent, communication satellite system that would use government radio frequencies and existing terminals may offer cost-savings; and (6) notwithstanding the advantages of a commercially equivalent system, the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 allows for the creation of additional systems only if required to meet unique governmental needs or if otherwise required in the national interest.

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