Trends in Satellite Acquisition: Augmenting Government SATCOM


Satellite communications, long a staple for both military and civilian operations, is undergoing change. New capacity, improved throughput technologies and a growing fleet of birds outside of the synchronous orbit mean altogether greater capabilities.

Experts like retired Air Force Brigadier General Peter Hoene, president and CEO of SES Government Solutions, also say this: Federal agencies acquiring satellite services need a refreshed approach to how they buy. Hoene discussed satellite issues on a panel with retired Vice Admiral Lyle Bien, a strategic advisor to SES. They advise:

  • Try to avoid spot market buying, which can be more expensive and less flexible than longer-term capacity leasing arrangements.
  • For long-term needs, consider using a hosted payload. That is, your agency’s communications device attached to a satellite that’s already scheduled for launch aboard a rocket.
  • Consider the range of available options, from pure bandwidth to managed end-to-end services.

Among the technology considerations, consider whether your requirement can be met with the O3b satellites operating in mid-earth orbit, or about 5,000 miles high. They produce high data throughput and far lower latency than synchronous satellites. The dozen units are to have loss handoffs of data streams from one to the next. Several companies, including SES, hold investment positions in them.

Both providers and federal agency users of satellite-based services stress the importance of clear requirements and constant communications between vendor and customer.

Appearing earlier on the SATCOM panel were Eron Miller, the chief of the services division, COMSATCOM Center at the Defense Information Systems Agency and Ben Camerlin, the SACTOM program manager of the General Services Administration. They stressed the importance of understanding user needs and fashioning a contract accordingly. For example, depending on the types of data and volumes anticipated, decide whether by-the-minute or by-the-megabit plan is more advantageous. Don’t overlook the capabilities of potential suppliers’ ground infrastructures ⎯ the links that get the satellite information to individual desktops.

Panel Host:

  • Tom Temin, Federal News Radio

Panel Guests:

  • Eron Miller, Chief, SATCOM Division, in the Implementation and Sustainment Center, Infrastructure Executive Directorate of DISA
  • Ben Camerlin, SATCOM Program Manager, GSA
  • Peter F. Hoene, Brigadier General, USAF (Ret.), President & CEO, SES Government Solutions
  • Lyle Bien, Vice Admiral, USN (Ret.), Strategic Advisor, SES Government Solutions

Peter F. Hoene, Brigadier General, USAF (Ret.)Hoene_Peter-5x7
President & CEO
SES Government Solutions

Brigadier General Peter Hoene, USAF (Retired) was named President and CEO of SES Government Solutions on January 19, 2015. In his previous role, he served as the Corporate Vice President for Development for SES Government Solutions, headquartered in Reston, VA. He works with United States warfighters and other government users to help determine their requirements and offer communications support, hosted payload opportunities, and network solutions. He then communicates those requirements to the SES parent organization to take advantage of existing on-orbit SES fleet capacity, or to influence future satellite designs. In his last active duty position, Hoene served as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Program Executive Officer for Command and Control, where he managed a portfolio of Joint and Coalition Command and Control and Information Sharing programs.

Lyle.BienLyle Bien, Vice Admiral, USN (Ret.)
Strategic Advisor
SES Government Solutions

Vice Admiral Lyle Bien is currently a defense industry consultant. Vice Admiral Bien was employed by Teledesic LLC from 1999-2002 in charge of the Government Sector. He has been a member of the MDA Graybeard Panel on National Missile Defense since its inception in 1999. He serves as an advisor to service Title X Wargames, multiple Exercises at U.S. Strategic Command, as well as the MDA Wargames, Schriever Series, and Simulations at the Missile Defense Integration Operations Center at Schriever AFB. He works extensively in the related areas of Space-based Communications, C4ISR, and Global Missile Defense.

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