How My Active Service Makes Me a Better SATCOM Technician

I work for Intelsat General as a NOC technician, based at the main Intelsat ISOC in Ellenwood, Georgia. I’m in the front lines working with customers, supervising new service turnups and trouble shooting any service issues that arise.

I’m also a Master Sergeant in the Georgia Air National Guard and serve as a RF Transmission Systems technician in the 224th joint communications support squadron out of Brunswick, Georgia. My squadron is part of the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), based at McDill Air Force base in Tampa, Florida. My last deployment was to Qatar, on an 11 month activation.

Both of my roles feeds into and strengthens the other. My service in the 224th makes me acutely aware of the pressures faced by the military in theater. My role for IGC enables me to directly support our military users in exactly the way I expect to be supported when I’m on active duty.

By switching routinely between these two roles, I’m also constantly learning new problem solving skills. There are a number of personnel at the IGC NOC with prior military experience. That drives a “must do” attitude towards any type of service delivery issue, because we’ve been there ourselves. There have been times I’ve experienced the exact problem that comes in from a customer, and can quickly provide a solution.

For me it’s a constant shift between the network operations perspective and the perspective of the end user. It’s helped me simultaneously see the big picture, while also being able to dive really deeply into the weeds to solve specific problems.

Sometimes its not just trouble shooting, it’s knowing how to prevent the problem in the first place. I use the analogy of having a scanner that can read the SATCOM equivalent of a Check Engine Light. If you can understand the problem immediately, you can resolve without having a breakdown.

Here’s an example. In the military, when a modem loses connection to a hub we say that modem has been “bricked.” Meaning that’s about how useful it then becomes.

In the past the modem and the terminal would be shipped back to Tampa for servicing. This was time consuming and inefficient. Thanks to my ISOC service, I now know how to repair the modem in the field, and can usually quickly get it back in service. I (and others) have shared this best practice, and today it’s rare for a bricked modem to require transport back to Tampa.

When you do a job yourself, you know exactly what it takes. My work helps the highest level of situational awareness in the world to the American military. That’s something I’m very proud of, whether I’m acting as the provider or the end user. 

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