Military Begins Tests on High-Speed Communications Satellite

American military personnel in the Pacific are about to get a serious boost in broadband speed.

Next week, the first of six satellites in the Wideband Global SatCom system will go online and begin three months of testing as it hovers 22,300 miles above the Pacific.

When fully deployed, the $1.8 billion system built by Boeing will increase U.S. military communication speed worldwide about tenfold.

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Australia also is involved. The country kicked in enough of its own money to add the sixth satellite to the project.

Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told Reuters there's no single reason the satellites are going into operation now. They have been in development since 2001.

"It's just a matter of they're out of Schlitz in the Pacific and they'd like to have some more," he said, referring to the old commercial tagline, "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer."

• Click here for the full story from Reuters, here for a U.S. Air Force fact sheet and here to view old Schlitz ads.