DoD wideband satellite communication services are currently provided by a combination of the existing Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and Global Broadcast Service (GBS) satellites. According to United Launch Alliance, quoted on Spaceflight Now, "A single WGS spacecraft has as much bandwidth as the entire existing DSCS constellation."
The constellation of WGS satellites increases the communications capabilities of the militaries of the United States, Canada, and Australia by providing additional bandwidth and communications capabilities for tactical command and control, communications, and computers; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR); battle management; and combat support information. Canada has also signed on to become a partner.
WGS also augments the current Ka-band Global Broadcast Service (on UHF F/O satellites) by providing additional information broadcast capabilities as well as providing new two-way capability on that band. The combination of the Wideband Global Satellites, DSCS satellites, GBS payloads, wideband payload and platform control assets, and earth terminals operating with them has been referred to as the Interim Wideband System (IWS). It provides services to the US DoD and Australian Department of Defence. The IWS System supports continuous 24-hour-per-day wideband satellite services to tactical users and some fixed infrastructure users. Limited protected services will be provided under conditions of stress to selected users employing terrestrial modems capable of providing protection against jamming.
The WGS satellites will complement the DSCS III Service Life Enhancement Program (SLEP) and GBS payloads and will offset the eventual decline in DSCS III capability. WGS will offer 4.875 GHz of instantaneous switchable bandwidth, thus each WGS can supply more than 10 times the capacity of a DSCS III Service Life Enhancement Program (SLEP) satellite. Once the full constellation of 6 WGS satellites is operational, they will replace the DSCS system. WGS-1 with its 2.4 Gbit/s wideband capacity, provided greater capability and bandwidth than all the DSCS satellites combined.
Operation and usage of the system is broken into 3 segments.