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Satellite Bandwidth

The amount of data that can be received, processed, and transmitted by a satellite are commonly stated in megabits per second (one million bits of data per second) or gigabits per second (one billion bits per second). In Desert Storm US military forces numbered 542,000 and they had 99 megabits per second of satellite bandwidth available. In OEF/OIF bandwidth rose to 3,200 megabits per second while US forces were reduced to 350,000. American forces in Iraq used 30 times the bandwidth available only a decade earlier in the first Gulf War. This is almost an exact extrapolation, in bandwidth, of Moore's Law. This creates the presumption that US personnel deployed in a major effort in 2010 would expect to have 20 times the bandwidth available during Iraqi Freedom (or 800-1000 times the bandwidth available in Desert Storm). As of 2004 DOD planners foresaw the need for approximately 16 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwidth to support a large joint-service operation by 2010. While DOD planned to have capacity of 11 Gbps, other sources earlier had projected that DOD's capacity might be as low as 2 Gbps at that time. The insatiable demand for battlefield bandwidth has no apparent cessation. In its current configuration, a single Global Hawk UAV requires 500Mbps bandwidth - which equates to 500 percent of the total bandwidth of the entire U.S. military used during the 1991 Gulf War.

Increasing Demand for SATCOM Since 1990


Noble Anvil


Iraqi Freedom
Used (Mbps)
100 250 750 2,400
Total Force
500,000 51,000 55,000 235,000
Number of
5,000 Military Member
Force Increments
[ie Brigades]
100 10.2 11 47
SATCOM Used per
5,000 Military Members
1 24.5 68.2 51.1

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 13:04:03 ZULU