How SATCOM as a Service delivers reduced TCO for agencies

30 August 2017

Joel Machen, Director of Solutions Engineering, Special Programs, U.S. Government BU

  • us-government

  • global-xpress

In interacting with United States government users, I am finding that a number of them continue to build and manage their own satellite and ground networks. Of course, this is the way agencies have “done it for years.” But today, users are finding that it makes more sense to switch to a managed service. Typically, the core mission of these agencies does not include satellite communications (SATCOM), yet they still dedicate countless budgetary and personnel resources to running their own networks. This approach is ever more challenging in the face of budgets pressure and push to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of information technology throughout the government.

Inmarsat’s SATCOM as a Service offers a readily available alternative that directly addresses these issues. SATCOM as a Service is an end-to-end managed service capability that provides global, mobile, high-throughput connectivity the way government users seek it: easily, affordably and operationally available – anytime, anywhere. With no infrastructure charges or research and development investment on their part, they travel from one location to another and simply connect to get the global connectivity they need, when they need it.

Mobile government users are increasingly adopting this managed service model, seeking access to rapid, reliable, worldwide satellite connectivity that delivers the following TCO advantages:

Users benefit from continuous system advancements

Inmarsat’s systems are always evolving. We are investing significantly to add new satellites, ground stations and secure enclaves, while constantly upgrading our networks. Our fourth Global Xpress satellite recently launched and a fifth is planned to launch in 2019; the first Inmarsat-6 satellite is expected to launch shortly afterwards to enhance the connectivity, reliability, capacity and capabilities of our communications services. This arrives without capital investment from our customers. Once we implement and test these new technological improvements, users simply connect and get to enjoy the benefits.

Users are not restricted to confining contracts for infrastructure 

When agencies build and oversee their own satellite networks, they make large investments and long term contractual commitments for the hubs, modems and other infrastructure that they purchase. When new versions come out, they usually require a major contract revision, which often involves unplanned costs for infrastructure, software and even hardware. Beyond this, agencies are always evaluating end of life projections for systems and equipment, which requires them to devote significant time and energy to researching the market for replacements. Our customers avoid this experience because we keep our systems modern and our equipment current, and their SATCOM as a Service subscription allows them to access the latest technology with no capital outlays on their part. Additionally, our terminal type approval process removes the control version/configuration management and certification burden and ensures that terminals operate efficiently and according to specifications.

Users only pay for the access they need

When agencies operate their own network, they typically lease bandwidth to cover any potential operating region. This results in an expensive, often frustrating guessing game, in which a network planner attempts to forecast where and when coverage will be required. Inevitably, they end up over-leasing bandwidth in certain regions ( paying for bandwidth they do not use) and under-leasing it in others, which means their users do not have adequate connectivity to perform data-intensive missions. In contrast, SATCOM as a Service delivers guaranteed data rates to satisfy mission needs at a moment’s notice, worldwide. With solid service level agreements and committed information rates, users get what they ask for and only use it when they need to, and the quality of the acquired service is assured. In other words, no more guessing games or over-leasing and under-leasing.

Users eliminate training costs 

Maintaining and operating a satellite system requires significant personnel resources and can get complicated: The technologies require extensive subject matter expertise and 24/7 network operation centers demand trained staff capable of managing intricate operating systems. However, SATCOM as a Service is an always-on capability. Because we house the expertise and invest in ongoing staff development, it frees up military resources from administering disparate networks, allowing them to focus on mission-critical operations, a significant bottom-line saving.

At Inmarsat, we have earned the trust of our customers. Ever since we were founded in 1979, we have tirelessly and effectively served the requirements of government users. We understand first-hand their missions, challenges and ultimate goals. We build our systems end-to-end with government users in mind, complementing military satellite resources cost-effectively and delivering worldwide connectivity that is completely secure, reliable, resilient, and always on – so you can focus on your agency’s core mission.

About the author

Joel MachenJoel Machen is Director of Solutions Engineering, Special Programs, U.S. Government Business Unit, providing focused support to the Special Operations, Intelligence and aero/UAV customer communities.

Joel brings to this role 20 years of tactical communications experience, developing and implementing technical solutions for Tactical and VIP networks.  Prior to joining Inmarsat, Joel was the Commercial Market Lead for TeraLogics and before that held a variety of positions at Booz Allen Hamilton, White House Communication Agency, and the U.S. Army.