Posted by

Cost-Risk Analysis of Satellite Bandwidth Services

Risk Track

Downloadable Files:

RISK-6 Bresnahan Paper

RISK-6A Bresnahan Paper


The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate application of basic risk- analysis techniques to a real-world cost estimating problem. Each year the U.S. Marine Corps must budget millions of dollars for satellite bandwidth services. Communication via satellite is frequently required during operations in theater, disaster relief, and any situation in which a secure communication infrastructure is not already present. The USMC is developing an Expeditionary Command and Control Suite (ECCS) that allows small teams of soldiers to establish secure satellite voice and data links with headquarters. This study allows decision makers to compare bandwidth costs for three different ECCS alternatives. We surveyed airtime rates for INMARSAT M4, BGAN, and Ku-band services. We also developed four representative operational scenarios that describe how the system will be employed operationally. Finally, we interviewed USMC communication experts to determine the frequency and duration of each scenario, as well as the portion of time spent on each type of satellite band. We used ACE 7.0 to develop a flexible framework for modeling bandwidth costs and their associated cost risk. The results show that one of the ECCS alternatives is likely to require significantly more O&M funding because it relies on older satellite technology. In addition, the analysis provides a defendable estimate of annual bandwidth costs.


Sam Bresnahan
Cost analyst at Tecolote Research, Inc. Four years of experience developing life cycle cost estimates for vehicles, communications electronics, information systems, and sensor systems. SCEA Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCE/A) and Certified Basic ACEIT 7.0 Instructor. Education: 2003 University of Virginia, B.S. – Biochemistry.