Even today, with all our conveniences, rural travel is really dangerous. If a flight goes down there may not be roads to reach the crash, and the weather could be deadly. In underdeveloped countries, bandits often rule the roads, so air travel, though risky, may still be the safest way to get where you’re going. For researchers, the military and industries like oil, getting to those outposts is essential.
For these locations, satellite communications are more important than ever, creating a consistent link between pilots and hubs. Satellites can even be used when traditional radio and radar are out, in the case of weather disasters or infrastructure damage.
Harris CapRock (News - Alert) has been providing the FAA’s Alaskan Satellite Telecommunications Infrastructure (ASTI) with satellite coverage, and now they’re being rewarded for their good work with a new contract. Worth up to $46 million, the deal starts with a two year term and eight renewable one-year options. Harris will provide full redundancy, with a two-satellite system in operation. ASTI was launched to upgrade the legacy system, the Alaskan National Aerospace System Interfacility Communication System.
Harris CapRock is actually a four division company that spans the communication industry, and their full service structure makes them a go-to name. CapRock Communications (News - Alert), who will service the FAA contract, specializes in managed communication to harsh and remote environments, and the FAA’s willingness to do business with them again shows they know their stuff. They also provide communications links for thirty government agencies, including the Department of Defense, as well as cruise lines and the FAA’s Telecom Infrastructure program (FTI). They’ve long been a powerhouse in the broadcast industry, serving radio and television networks with RF equipment and satellite uplinks.
Harris currently leases satellite space time from other companies operating low earth orbit satellites, and the company’s size and reputation will only serve for better deals as more players get into the satellite game. If they want to keep getting these contracts from the US government, though, they have to be picky; a flap was caused earlier this year when Harris included a satellite partially owned by a Hong Kong company as part of a proposal for military communications across Africa. With US funding on ever shakier ground and the stratospheric rise of global communications, Harris may decide it’s not worth the restrictions imposed to keep bidding for US government contracts.
This recent contract with the FAA seems to indicate they’re going to stick with the government for now, but time will tell if they adopt a take it or leave it posture and get their space time from the lowest bidder.
Edited by Blaise McNamee