AFRTS – Keeping the Troops Connected to Home

Every day members of our armed forces make sacrifices in their service to our country. Thankfully, one thing they don’t have to give up is the news and entertainment provided via television and radio. The American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) keeps our troops connected to what’s going on here at home.

Think of it as the big Direct TV network in the sky, with satellites providing the backbone of the distribution network.  Our deployed personnel benefit from having a “taste of home” with regular programming heard in the States while at the same time commercials are replaced with important Pentagon and State Department updates relevant to their lives.

The AFRTS has been around for decades, offering far more programming choices than in the early days. Recently the government reviewed how the service contract was bid out and delivered. The Pentagon wanted to explore potential cost savings through consolidation and scale, and also the efficiencies provided by one prime contractor and one point of contact for issue resolution.

I’m extremely proud to say that the Pentagon decided to consolidate the AFRTS contract through Intelsat General (IGC). The consolidation saved the government millions of dollars via the efficiencies of a large scale buy and simplifies assurance of continuing operations through a single point of contact. 

IGC examined how the existing network provided services and determined the number of teleports could be reduced and a number of terrestrial lines used to deliver programming could be eliminated.  IGC also conducted a top to bottom review of how monitoring and control supervision was conducted.  IGC determined new equipment was needed at each teleport and implemented a consolidated M&C operations center in Ellenwood, GA.  All of the seven teleports around the world are constantly monitored from this one location.

Consolidating the contract did more than just save millions – it significantly improved the performance of the global distribution network. In some cases, IGC actually took over from previous vendors prior to the end of the contract deadline, thereby reducing the down time required for the transfer.

You may have seen how the AFRTS brings the home front to the front lines for huge events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball tournaments. We’re dedicated to making sure that at least when it comes to media, our troops won’t miss a beat while they are away protecting the rest of us.

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