DoD, GSA moving on satcom mobility in CS3

Mobility isn't just an issue government employees are struggling with in a fight over smartphone access – it's a critical piece of satellite communications and global military operations.

In terms of satellite, mobility is the ability to communicate to and from anywhere in the world at any time, regardless of how remote the locale. Those communications often are supported by satellite, and the demand only continues to grow. To address that demand, government officials are working on improving how they buy some commercial satellite services.

"We're seeing these initiatives at the Pentagon where the CIO is figuring out how to use devices on Defense Department networks and the security challenges that presents," Bob Roe, CEO of TrustComm Inc., said March 9 at the Satellite 2016 conference at National Harbor, Maryland. "There are similar trends in satellite."

Those trends include limited ultra-high frequency military satellite communications, maritime requirements outpacing military satellite capabilities and availability, and the bring-your-own-device debate, Roe said.

The government hopes to tackle mobility issues in the new Complex Commercial SATCOM Solutions (CS3) contract vehicle from the General Services Administration, a follow-on piece of the Future Commercial Satcom Communications Services Acquisition (FCSA). FCSA is a joint effort between GSA and the Defense Information Systems Agency, which handles the military side of commercial satcom (comsatcom) acquisition.

"Mobility is within the overall scope of CS3 that we've developed. We've also written the contract in such a way to allow for any future innovative technologies as they come to market because CS3 will be a 10-year" indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, said Ben Camerlin, GSA program manager for satcom/FCSA. "We know we can't predict what industry is going to do – they innovate way faster than the government now. So we've written the scope of CS3 so that any new mobility technologies that come to market, along as they're within scope of the contract and the comsatcom realm, that will be something we can use in the future."

Camerlin emphasized that DISA remains a key program partner in carrying out CS3, noting that agency officials are serving as evaluators in the CS3 source selection process.

"So we are really in lock step with DISA and DoD on CS3," he said.

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