The Department of Defense (DoD) is not currently utilizing its newest high-frequency, or narrowband, military satellite communications system to its fullest capabilities, a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.

The DoD’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), its latest narrowband satellite communication system, has been in orbit for the last four years. Still, the department has yet to be able to realize its full capabilities.

Ideally, the MUOS satellites should increase communications capacity 10-fold and provide “secure communications less vulnerable to weather conditions or other potential impediments,” according to the report.

“DoD has invested $7.4 billion to develop, build, and begin delivering MUOS,” GAO wrote. “However, longstanding gaps between the fielding of the satellite system and compatible user terminals have limited DoD’s ability to fully use the system.”

Other issues GAO found with DoD’s narrowband communication capabilities include that users are still using the communication system that preceded MUOS. That system is now oversubscribed and will be while DoD fully transitions to the MUOS system. Additionally, the MUOS satellites have limited design lives.

To help DoD rectify the issue, GAO made two recommendations. The first is to re-examine its options for narrowband satellite communication capabilities to meet its short-term needs, and the second is to reevaluate its future narrowband needs. DoD concurred with both recommendations.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.