DOD Global Broadcast System goes two-way

The Defense Department’s Global Broadcast Service, dubbed as DirectTV for warfighters, now provides two-way service thanks to engineering work by the Defense Information Systems Agency, a top DISA official said.

David Mihelcic, head of engineering for the Global Information Grid at DISA, said his engineering team incorporated a commercial, two-way satellite TV standard -- digital video broadcasting-return channel service -- into GBS, with 20 suites of equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan upgraded to provide the two-way service.

Raytheon developed GBS for DOD. In one-way broadcast mode, it can transfer data at rates of 24 megabits/sec via a satellite channel, or it can broadcast video content, including commercial channels such as CNN, to deployed locations.

The GBS system operates over Ka-band transponders on Navy ultra-high frequency follow-on satellites and leased Ku-band transponders on commercial satellites.

Mihelcic said the upgrade of the GBS system with the two-way satellite TV technology means DOD can take full advantage of transponders carrying the service. “We can now use the full transponder instead of just half” in broadcast mode, Mihelcic said at AFCEA International’s TechNet International 2006 conference in Washington, D.C.

Because of the incorporation of the two-way satellite TV technology into GBS, Mihelcic said, commanders in Iraq can now use the system to uplink video from unmanned aerial vehicles operating over battlefields in Iraq to anywhere in the world.

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