Hughes Network Systems believes commercial communications technologies and software-defined networking are necessary to ensure optimal cybersecurity for military constellations.
“There’s been a lot of talk over the last 10 to 15 years on increasing the use of commercial technology [in military satcom]. We’d like to see it happen faster,” Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of the network provider’s government, defense and intelligence systems division, tells Connectivity Business News in the latest episode of “The Dish” podcast. “We agree with the DOD [Department of Defense] that commercial technologies are going to be key in any sort of future [security] conflict.”
Hughes last month announced the launch of a private 5G network for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington. Germantown, Md.-based Hughes was awarded an $18 million contract in March 2022 by the DOD to develop and deploy the network, Lober says.
“The DOD has a lot of interest in 5G technologies,” Lober says. “Some of that interest is driven by the increase in speeds you can get with 5G, lower latency and the ability to do things like edge computing.”
“The DOD needs to spend a lot more time and money on network management as these [communications] systems become more complex,” Lober says.
With networks that have satellites in multiple orbits and multiple transport types, it’s critical to have a software-defined system that manages the network efficiently to ensure high-quality communications while keeping the networks secure, Lober says in the podcast.
Software-defined networking enables satellite operators to protect against jam attacks because the software can encrypt satellite communications, hiding what data path the satellites are operating over, preventing a potential jammer from knowing where to locate the data they’d need, he says.
Hughes’ parent company, EchoStar (NASDAQ: SATS), in February announced it will be working with Santa Clara, Calif.-based small satellite manufacturer Astro Digital to develop a global S-band network composed of 28 satellites in low Earth orbit and operated by EchoStar’s Australian subsidiary, EchoStar Global.
The network will be able to provide Internet of Things services for multiple applications and has received interest from the military, according to Lober. It is expected to be operational next year, according to a release.
Tune into “The Dish” to learn more about Hughes’ 5G private network at NAS Whidbey Island, why the military is interested in commercial satcom technologies and the role of software-defined networks in staying ahead of cybersecurity threats.