On a planet that resembles Earth, long wave radio communications face some challenges. Satellite communications (SATCOM) is impossible as it is impossible for the inhabitants to send anything up into space despite having near future technology due to a particle cloud layer. This particle cloud layer came a while after radio communications and satellites were developed and created.
Starting at around 50km altitude (around the start of the D layer of the ionosphere), this cloud extends upwards. Slightly past the ionosphere, the particles that make up the cloud layer violently react with anything climbing altitude. Stripping/tearing apart anything that rockets past it. For reference, a Saturn V would be torn apart in seconds. Despite humanity's best efforts, they haven't been able to send anything into space, let alone past the upper Mesosphere (85km). For cruising altitudes, one can safely assume that anything past 50km will start to feel major vibrations and face some surface level damage. Going higher will cause damage and tearing of a rocket or aircraft at an exponential rate.
While SATCOM is useful for long range communications, it isn't the only method. Before the advent of satellite communication, we relied heavily on bouncing radio waves off the ionosphere (especially the D layer) between a transmitter and receiver. Aka sky wave. However, the particle cloud interacts with radio communications as well. The suspended particles in the cloud can have a variety of effects on a radio signal. Sometimes it does nothing, sometimes it causes the radio signal to reflect at a different angle, completely missing the receiver. Other times the signal is shot up straight into space. The effects are determinant based on the types of particles colliding with each other in the sky during the moment of transmission. All this means that while sky wave works at times, it's not reliable enough for military operations.
The majority of the planet's internet/communications system relies heavily on wired connections and base stations for civilian use. For basic cellular or radio electric applications this is fine since one can utilize multiple base stations. Sky wave communications is used by civilians at times, however a receiver may not be able to send a verification message back (two generals/exactly once delivery dilemma) at times.
However, for the military this is problematic. Long range communications are important. Especially in a modern battlefield where military units are maneuvering while working together with multiple other branches. Even moreso if a faction is operating far from home. Chancing sky wave by bouncing radio signals against the ionosphere is simply too risky to use. It may work at times, but it may also not work for a couple days. As such they need alternative methods of communications.
How would my military communicate across both short and long ranges if SATCOM and sky wave is impossible and unreliable respectively?
- Line of sight radio communications work perfectly fine.
- Radio existed far before the particle cloud set upon the planet. Infact, they had capabilities to send basic satellites into space. However, after that they have never been able to get back into space or use the ionosphere for radio communications reliably.
- In terms of scale, a faction needs to be able to communicate across oceans or continents somewhat reliably. They don't need real-time data uploads, but reports and top level orders do need to be able to be sent.
- The system doesn't have to give the exact same resolution or scale as existing SATCOM or skywave communications. It just has to be good enough for the military to operate overseas or across their country during defensive operations.
- Technology is near future.