The U.S. Army has again bought a commercial system to do something there was no military gear available for. In this case, the army needed a satellite communications system that could provide high speed communications in a moving vehicle. There was one available, MobiLink. It provides up to one Mbps, which is enough to support VOIP (Internet telephone) while receiving a video feed from a Predator and other Internet like tasks. The system is quick in other ways. If the vehicle goes into a tunnel and loses the signal, it picks it up again within two seconds of leaving the tunnel.
The army is buying ten of the MobiLink systems, and two have been in service since last Fall, in Iraq, to make sure the system worked under combat conditions. It did, and the other eight will be delivered this year. The army has many more similar systems, but these require the vehicle to stop to get a satellite signal. The MobiLink systems cost $120,000 each, which is about a third more than the current "stop to operate" satcom systems.
MobiLink is used for things like convoys going through hostile areas. The vehicle with MobiLink can receive video from Predators and warplanes overhead, as well as sending video to higher headquarters to assist with efforts to aid the convoy if it is attacked and halted. Another use for MobiLink is as a mobile battalion or brigade headquarters, for an operation that requires the unit to move a long distance by road. MobiLink can be installed in a MRAP, hummer or Stryker in less than half an hour. MobiLink would be particularly useful in Afghanistan, where the long travel distances and mountains make radio communication difficult.