DoD interested in smartphone-to-satellite communications services

In recent weeks, news and contemplation has come out surrounding providers like Apple investing into LEO constellations. In fact, Apple already plans to offer emergency cell service via satellite infrastructure in what would otherwise be out of service locations, and has made payment for the infrastructure to enable this capability. But direct-to-device satellite communications are not only of interest in the commercial/civil realm.

The DoD sees the capability to connect cellphones to satellite networks as “an enabler for equipping warfighters with smaller, lighter, more capable and inexpensive communications devices”.

Furthermore, because military owned infrastructure is often subject to “prioritization” leaving missions at the bottom of the hierarchy unserved, the commercial “pay to play” services are attractive to the DoD.

As with commercial use of satellite constellations to provide direct connectivity to cell phones, the infrastructure when used in this way has surface area for cyber attack parallel to those that are traditional to mobile infrastructure (e.g. cell towers). The DoD’s interest in using both military specific and commercial infrastructure speaks to the need for the implementation of meaningful cybersecurity protocols on both the military and commercial space based infrastructure intended for direct-to-device satellite communication services.

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