Hunter and TCS: a solution for the US Marine Corps Network

Hunter and TCS:  a solution for the US Marine Corps Network

Task Order CS002 was released to US Government contractors in the spring of 2012.  It required a worldwide Ku-band network to service the US Marine Corps’ global satcom requirements.  TeleCommunication Systems (TCS), a long-time client and partner of Hunter’s wanted to provide a unique solution to win the RFP and ensure that the Marine Corps had the greatest network capabilities possible.

The Challenge

The response required several months of work, including several hundreds of satellite technical analyses and negotiations with over a dozen potential vendors.  The solution ultimately required approximately 450 MHz of satellite capacity, spread over 12 satellites and providing coverage of 75% of the globe.

The Solution

The first challenge for such a large and wide-spread network was in finding all the satellite coverage required to fulfill the RFP, as an incomplete proposal would be deemed non-compliant.  Approximately 70% of the coverage could be fulfilled by Intelsat General Corp (IGC), a sub-contractor and proposal-partner to TCS.  As the world’s largest satellite operator, IGC covered the majority of the required areas of operation, but holes in coverage remained.  It was there that Hunter worked to fill in the gaps.  Using alternative satellite capacity, primarily from small regional operators around the world, Hunter was able to find and secure the necessary remaining capacity.  Not only did Hunter secure the capacity but it was able to obtain rates and conditions that dramatically increased the probability of a win for TCS.

The first gap had only one compliant satellite option, but was unavailable to the team due to an exclusivity with a competitor.  To have an option, Hunter engaged with Koreasat, a regional satellite operator, to develop a compliancy structure along with Japanese regulatory approvals that would allow the team to use their satellite – a process that normally requires six to nine months was completed in 3 weeks.  This addressed the gap and was a key component in driving down the total solution cost.

The second gap over west Africa had two potential options deemed compliant – one of which was being bid by another company under exclusivity and the other being an Intelsat option, but which was effectively sold out.  Hunter then worked to discover all current users of that particular satellite beam, and found one user who was willing to shift their services to an alternate satellite and allow them to resell that capacity to the team.

With a fully compliant solution, and one which dramatically lowered the cost structure for the US Marine Corps, TCS ultimately secured the win the project.

What the process highlighted was that while satcom capacity is often referred to as a commodity, that perception is too simplistic.  There are many nuances that create distortions in value, including availability, established neighborhoods of other clients, differences in signal strength, allowed power densities of coverage and a host of other particulars that cause variations in the price valuations from one satellite to another.

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